A year on rails

No. It’s not Ruby on Rails. Gone are the days when the first thing that comes to peoples’ minds used to be the obvious. Google too isn’t spared. I don’t get the fruit when I search apple. I don’t get the fruit when I search blackberry either.

A year ago I decided to try something what most Bangaloreans think is far away being possible. Yes, I started using Indian Railways for my daily commute. In a city which has everything but roads you can ride on;Ā  in a city which has everything but footpaths you can walk on – I have to travel 70km everyday to reach my workplace and back home. The first option, by default, any IT guy in Bangalore looks for is the company provided transport. Cabs pick you right from your door step and drop you at the office gate in the meanwhile you take a long 2 hour sleep. My company does not provide this. The second option is to use Public Transport. Unfortunately, over all these years Bangalore is connected by BMTC buses and Auto Rickshaws and nothing else. I, like every other IT guy started using the BMTC’s Volvo Bus service. 6 months later, I called it a day. Road is NOT the means to travel 70km every single day in Bangalore. And the only means of transport left to try was railways. I was as surprised as you are right now, when I first thought of this option. I decided to give it a try one day and trust me I’ve never looked back since. Here’s why.

Train

Cost

Train is meant to be the transport for the masses. Can you remember the last time the train fare was increased? Way back in 2005. Train fare is no way comparable to BMTC’s Volvo Service. Just to put it on paper, One way fare from Majestic to Whitefield in a Volvo Bus is INR60. So, a to and fro journey costs you INR120 per day. You may ask why not purchase a daily pass which costs just INR90. OK, then for 20 working days in a month it sums up to INR1800. You may now ask why not purchase a monthly pass which costs just INR1400.

Now the train fare. One way fare from Majestic to Whitefield is INR4. Yes, four only. Why even bother to make a monthly calculation? Dirt cheap, isn’t it?

Time

Indian Railways is known for its never ending delays. But believe me, short route trains that I take is always on time. Not even a single day in the whole year that there’s been any delay. Now that allows you to plan your day effectively. Once it starts on time there’s no stopping it because there’s – No traffic signals. No traffic jams. No flyover constructions. No one ways. No speed breakers. No road blocks for functions and protests. The train is the king of its route in its time. Only 3 stops in a 35 km journey that does not take more than 35 minutes. Show me one means of transport within the city that can beat this. BMTC would give a full Bangalore Darshan and drop you after 2 hours. And yeah, rain doesn’t delay the train either.

Energy

No traffic means no strain. No strain means full of energy when you reach office or get back home. You’re as fresh as you were at home when you reach office and only as tired as you were at office when you reach home. People in Bangalore are almost dead by the time they reach home šŸ™‚

Pollution

When you travel by road, you’re exposed to air pollution, noise pollution, light pollution, visual pollution, thermal pollution and what not. If you’re inside a air conditioned bus for 2 hours then you are exposed to deodorant pollution in the morning and sweat pollution in the evening. Instant protection from all this, if you’re traveling in a train. Health is wealth.

People

In India, train travel is always memorable. It’s in a train that people sitting opposite to each other start a small conversation and end up being long time friends. Your co-passengers are always interactive. They crack jokes so that you have your share of laughter for the day. They debate on current affairs so that you need not read the newspaper in office. What that makes is – keep you occupied for the whole of the journey as opposed to people ear-plugged and staying up to themselves inside a bus where nobody cares for each other.

Food

Woke up late – Skipped breakfast – Late to office? Doesn’t matter. There’s ready made food made available by IRCTC. There’s a vendor showing up every 5 minutes with Coffee, Tea, Masala Dosa, Omelet and lots more. Stayed late in office – Skipped snacks? Doesn’t matter. There’s Chilli Bajji and Sandwich. They’re hygienic and cheap. To add to this, there are villagers who travel to the city to sell fresh vegetables at throw away prices. So, everyday there’s one fresh veggie in my kitchen.

Excuse

Train can be a very useful excuse if you want to escape from office early. Once your boss knows that you use the train to commute, you can always tell him that if I miss this train, then there’s no other train and I cannot go home. Any boss has to buy this reason. But he always knows that the last volvo is at 11:30pm.

Switching to train for my daily commute is one of the best decisions I have taken in the past year. Do you think more and more people can actually try and adopt train as their mainstream transport means until Namma Metro gets underway?

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18 thoughts on “A year on rails

  1. Maga, I agree with all your points except a few of them. The first being the food supplied in IRCTC being hygenic. I have travelled all over the country (in trains) for the last 2 years and I always had problem with the food being unhygenic. And the second being, unfortunately not everyone in Bangalore can take advantage of this considering the location of their offices and the proximity to the station. Even if a station is close to their office, there may not be trains at daily office hours. But yeah, if this suits train seems obviously the best choice!

    1. Any food can be considered hygienic until the cooking process is invisible. And once in a while consuming such food increases immunity šŸ™‚

      Totally agree with this. You need to be lucky to have train connectivity to your workplace.

      1. It depends on what food one takes from IRCTC. Most non-fried foods are good, and guess what you get packed items too. I remember my sister used to take the train to reach Devanagondhi from SBC (B’lore city) for the same reasons and it’s the best transport. Urban transit trains are soon gonna come as most of the lines have been electrified now- should be only a few months from now (earlier than the metro for sure šŸ˜› )

        1. Karnataka has always been given step motherly treatment when it comes to railway facilities. Very few lines are electrocuted and double tracked. Once high traffic routes are given these facilities, it’s surely changes the way people commute.

    1. Thanks. I’m really guilty for not posting regularly. Microblogging had took over. Now, I realize there’s no replacement for what you can express and convey through a blog.

  2. yes trains are really effective means of transport. Mumbai and Calcutta are shining examples of this mode of transport way before Metro started. Even here in Bangalore once the Metro starts ppl shud be willing enuff to ditch their 2 wheelers and actually walk up to the station. The other day i was at a doctor’s and she was complaining abt the upcoming Metro station nr her clinic. She asked, “Where is place to park our vehicles?” I told her,” u dont have to park a vehicle, u r meant to walk.” That is the purpose of bringing a metro station every between every 2-3 kms. ”
    If ppl dont understand this then it is going to be more chaotic than ever even after Metro comes in,

    1. I had used the metro in Delhi and remember that there are big parking lots on the suburban metro stations.These help you cover the last mile to your place some times.I don’t really agree that parking lots are not needed near metro stations.

  3. Totally agree with you. Train is best means of transport in cities if available. Unfortunately most of the ‘Metro’ cities in India are results of unplanned and uncontrolled expansion (ex. Pune). Hence there is no way now to introduce trains in these cities.

    1. 1. Jobs are always uncertain. Work places are bound to change and shifting that often is not practical. Also, areas closer to IT parks are rarely resident friendly.

      2. I prefer staying with my family as long as I can šŸ™‚

  4. Hi Aditya,

    What about the daily purchase of tickets and all the hassles around that?

    Does it not take a great deal of time?

    Rgds

    Balaji

  5. Interesting to read! Time is always important to me. I want to get to work the fastest way possible and the most convenient way as possible too! Where I am from I would rather commute using a transit system then drive through a busy city.

  6. Hi Aditya,

    Really a nice post. I stay in Rajarajeshwari Nagar which is around 35 kms from ITPL. The problem is to catch a train to majestic I probably have to go to Kengeri station or take a bus to Majestic and catch the train. Travelling in bus to Majestic really loses the purpose of travelling in train. Any idea if there are train stops near Gnanabharathi or Nayandahalli station (at least Google tells me there are stations)?

    Regards,
    Nandan

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