July 24th, 2017 by admin

Economic Times has reported CAG audit found dirty linens were supplied to passengers of Indian Railways. I am not surprised and most passenger of Indian Railways will not be surprised as well. In India bed rolls etc are given typically only in AC compartments. One may also avail them in sleeper class compartments by paying an amount to the handlers. More or less I had good experience while traveling in train. But it did happen a few times, where I found stains on pillow cover or bed sheet. Passengers are duly charged for this services while purchasing the ticket.

But on all occasions I found the handlers asking for tips towards the end of the journey when they come to collect the bed rolls etc. When it is tips any amount from passenger should be accepted happily but in many cases they will insist on more. There are also another set of people who clean the coach and they claim to be a different time and they will also ask for tips. Once I told I have already given to the bed roll guys. He told me they wont give us and they are separate team. To put it simply, Indian Railways is a service company and its sole job it to serve the passengers well who traveling on board. All services like pantry, bed rolls, cleaning etc are outsourced to private parties but the service they provide are just like tokenism. I am not against services being outsources to private parties and believe it is not government’s job to cook food in train’s pantries. But it is definitely government’s job to make sure that passenger get good and hygienic food, bed rolls are clean & sanitized and the coach is clean. Normally the cleaners spray disinfectants two times a day in the train compartments during travel. Even then I have found cockroach one time. Cockroaches are rampant in sleeper class coaches.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit report was placed in the parliament last Friday. The report said the railways do not follow the norms it itself set for washing linens. It says more than half of shelf life of linens pass even before they reach the passenger. It said bedsheets has a life cycle of 12 months but they remain utilized in depots  for months. I feel at times may been given to passenger for usage after its life cycle. Indian railways has a lot of catch up to do to be truly called good service company. See the tons of complaints on Complaintboard.in.

If you did not get proper service or some violation of rule took place on the train, you can SMS your complaint to 9717630982. If you do not get any satisfactory answer or your complaint is not addressed, you can certainly approach the National Consumer Redressal Commission (NCDRC). Many a times India Railways will try to work it out within their Railways Claims Tribunal but if you are not satisfied, you can definitely approach NCDRC. Also, you can approach with your complaint directly to NCDRC.
July 10th, 2017 by admin

Today lets talk about a very interesting sort of magazine called inflight magazine which caters to a very niche audience. So what is this inflight magazine?

An inflight magazine (or in-flight magazine) is a free magazine distributed via the seats of an airplane by an airline company. (source: wikipedia)

Why would an airline company distribute free magazine to its passengers?

  1. Airline company is giving a sort of value added service through the magazine
  2. Airline company talk about their brand, plans, upcoming announcements etc. This sort of allows to reach out to their customers directly.
  3. People traveling in an flight are mostly high net worth individual (HNI) and probably influencers as well. Putting your product in front of them have a good chance of more word of mouth advertising and led to more influence marketing.
  4. The inflight magazine also features info on various destinations, lifestyle, travel etc. Along with this info it also contains ads by various brands which wants to connect to such a niche and high net worth individuals. This ads brings good money to the airline company which may be enough to supplement the cost of the magazine publishing.

In India almost every airline company has their inflight magazine. Spicejet has Spice Route, Indigo has Hello 6E, GoGetter from GoAir, Subh Yatra from Air India, Vistara from Vistara (Tata Singapore Airlines), Travel 3sixty from Air Asia India, TruJetter from TruJet, JetWings from Jet Airways.

Airlines companies mainly outsource the publishing of such magazines and I found company like MaxPosure Media Group handles a bulk of it in India. They handle Air India, TruJet, Vistara, Air Asia India. The inflight magazine is not just a value added service to its patrons from Airlines companies, its also a source of income for the airline companies. I was checking the asking rates for such inflight magazines and it leaves me with no doubt that it makes economic sense as well to have such magazines. In most cases the airlines companies would be making money out of this magazines as well. Though it may not be their main source of income but every income is a good income. The asking rate on JetWings for a full page ad is Rs 80,000 as shown on The Media Ant. Asking rate for full page add on Indigo inflight magazine Hello 6E is Rs 435,000. Do the math for magazines of 12 issues a year and you will have the answer.

Inflight magazines are a good times pass and infotainment for the passengers. But at the same time I wanted to show that its makes complete economic sense for the airlines companies to have such a service and most probably they make money as well out of such service.

December 1st, 2016 by Jeet

cantonment railway station

Indian railways has announced dynamic pricing for some exclusive trains like Shatabdi express, Rajdhani express and Duronto express. Before proceeding any further let’s first understand what dynamic pricing is?

Dynamic pricing, also referred to as surge pricing, demand pricing, or time-based pricing is a pricing strategy in which businesses set flexible prices for products or service based on current market demands. Businesses are able to change prices based on algorithms that take into account competitor pricing, supply and demand, and other external factors in the market. Dynamic pricing is a common practice in several industries such as hospitality, travel, entertainment, retail, electricity, and public transport.

Source: Wikipedia

As per this system base fare will rise by 10% with every 10% of berth sold subject to a ceiling of 1.4-1.5 times, depending on ticket class. It also puts severe restrictions on how you will do the journey. Check the salient Features of Premium Special Train on Dynamic Pricing:

• Premium special train is being introduced from Railway with dynamic fare pricing.
• Dynamic fare stands for the fare component which may be increased with the subsequent bookings.
• Advance Reservation Period (ARP) of this train will be a maximum of 15 days.
• Agents will not be allowed to book tickets in these trains.
• Dynamic fare shall be charged for confirm as well as RAC passengers.
• Waitlist Ticket Booking is not allowed in this train.
• Upgradation option shall not be applicable in this train.
• Modification is not allowed.
• Only E-tickets will be permitted for booking.
• I-ticket Booking is not allowed in this train.
• E-ticket booking is allowed in General Quota only.
• Tatkal/ Ladies/Other Quota tickets cannot be booked in this train.
• No concession shall be applicable in this train.
• Identity card number of the prescribed proof of identity is required at the time of booking. At least
one passenger should travel with his/her ID card in original which was used at the time of booking.
• Vacant berths left at the time of charting will be offered for current booking at current booking
counters of train originating stations.
• Cancellation is not allowed. However, ticket can be cancelled only if the train is cancelled.
• Dynamic Fare along with Total fare will be displayed after filling Reservation form. Users must ensure
the Fare and Journey Details before proceeding for payment.

I experienced dynamic pricing first hand yesterday when I was trying to book a ticket for Yeshwantpur – Howrah duronto express. I did not find the name Duronto express in the list on IRCTC.co.in and I purchased the ticket on Yeshwantpur – Howrach AC express for AC 2 tier for Rs 1516. But the allocated berth was side upper, hence had to cancel it. The ticket was for a senior citizen. So if you must have a lower berth, select book only if one lower berth is allocated while booking your ticket. This way if lower berth is not available, your ticket will not be booked. Otherwise after booking you will have to cancel the ticket and in the process will also lose around Rs 250 on cancellation charge. The cancellation charge was increased to deter agents who bulk book and cancel. But it is also affecting genuine train travellers like me.

Then again booked on Yeshwantpur – Howrah AC express for AC 3 tier for Rs 1066. I had to cancel this ticket as well for change of date. Finally when I was trying to book ticket with the changed date, I found Yeshwantpur – Howrah Duronto express on the list this time. I prefer Duronto express for better service and less travel time ( 29 hrs). The amount flashed on the screen looked unbelieveable at first. Yes it was Rs 1965. Yes Rs 449 more than the AC 2 tier ticket I purchased earlier and Rs 899 for than the AC 3 tier ticket I purchased earlier. This is when 71 tickets on AC 3 tier was still available and the journey date is almost couple of months away. I take Indian Railway’s idea of dynamic pricing but should not that be fair? I also get that Duranto express runs better but does it provide a premium service to command that price. Note that the prices are for a senior citizen. The actual price for AC 3 tier I found on Duronto was Rs 3310. For that price I would prefer to look for a flight which will drastically reduce my travel time. For a AC 2 tier on Duronto, people would prefer a flight for that price. The less the pricing gap between AC berths on trains and flight, there would be more converts from train to flight. There should be fair pricing. If premium service is provided, then they can charge for it. They can use dynamic pricing on current premium trains but there should be a fair and decent cap on it.

September 9th, 2016 by admin

When it comes to air connectivity North East India is probably the most under served market in India. Only the state capitals and a few prominent cities have air connectivity there.

So I was glad to hear hear that Spicejet will be launching service from Aizawl to Kolkata and Guwahati and from Silchar to Kolkata and Guwahati. The service will be launched on 4th October, 2016.

Spicejet Aizawl Fare

The fare from Aizawl – Kolkata is very competitively priced at Rs 1699. However, Kolkata – Aizawl has been priced at Rs 2127. This pricing variation may be due to West Bengal’s and Mizoram’s taxation rates. Looks like they will be flying two flights daily. You can check the Aizawl – Guwahati fare in the above table.

The pricing for the Silchar – Kolkata and Silchar – Guwahati route has surprised me. The lowest fare from Silchar to Kolkata on 4th October, 2016 is Rs 5084 and from Kolkata to Silchar on the same date is Rs 7416. Multiple search showed the price is varying by few rupees to Rs 100. The fare on 4th October, 2016 from Silchar – Guwahati is Rs 4088 and from Guwahati – Silchar is Rs 4332.

spicejet

Spicejet

I am trying hard to understand by what logic they have decided on the Silchar – Kolkata and Silchar – Guwahati route. Around that price international flights are available and they are gearing to charge that price to their customers. I know that Mizoram may have low tax rates but is it so low that it results in such discrepancy. Aizawl is even located further from Silchar at a distance of 179 KM. Apart from emergency, joy ride or once in a while flight, I doubt many will be using it at that price.

June 16th, 2016 by admin

Bikxie launched India’s first all female crew two wheeler taxi called Bikxie Pink in Gurgaon. It is only available to female passengers. The pink scooties not only provide another of transport but it is also cheap and faster. Also along with a female driver and the female passenger will be more comfortable. This is definitely boon for women commuters for last mile connectivity. The new service has got good response.

Hindustan times says the women drivers carry pepper spray and has emergency SOS system for safety. The NCR region do not have a very good track record when it comes to women’s safety.

Lets hope such service is launched in other cities as well.

Website: http://www.bikxie.com/

June 12th, 2016 by admin

How many of us would have imagined that two wheelers can also be used for purpose of public transportation? But these are the days of drastic change. Two wheeler taxis are set to become a reality with the central government of India is looking to amend the Central Motor Vehicles Act. As of now only the state of Goa and Haryana allows two wheeler taxis.

I saw bike or two wheeler taxis for the first time during my travel to Goa. It is available in Goa for few years now but it was mostly run by individual drivers. You can find them at bike taxi stands. The two wheeler taxis launched in Gurgaon ( now Gurugram) are more organized as they are managed by a company. They operate similarly on the lines of taxi aggregators like Ola, Uber etc.

bike taxi

Source: Bikxie.com

As of now Rideji, Baxi, BikxieM-taxi and UberMoto operates in Gurgaon. There is definitely a market for two wheeler taxis which saves in terms of money and time. Also, it will improve last mile connectivity for commuters. For example metro train users in Gurgaon will have another option of two wheeler taxis to hire. Operators like Rideji and Baxi did not provide any info on who are running these companies. This is little strange and dents confidence on using their service.

In Bangalore both Ola and Uber launched two wheeler taxis under the name Ola Bike and UberMoto respectively. However, they did not apply for license and the state government seized some of their two wheelers. Following this they suspended the service. Karnataka government says they can run two wheeler taxis but they first need to obtain license in this regard. The amendment in the central law will come handy. The Times of India says government aims to add the following items to the existing law:

Only those two-wheelers that are registered as commercial vehicles will be allowed to ply as taxis. Only drivers with commercial licence will be able to ferry people. The ministry is planning to come up with a separate set of safety guidelines that include mandating pillion riders to wear a helmet along with a reflector jacket.

Many startups and established players are waiting for the transport regulator to give the green signal. Once, approved we will have another mode of transport.

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