How do the season tickets work in Chennai suburban trains

#1 Nov 3rd, 2010, 13:32
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  • ArnoldLayne is offline
#1
Can someone shed light on how season tickets work in suburban trains in Chennai? Suppose I want to buy a season pass valid for a month for first class, is this like pay one price and travel on any train or is it zone based like London? Or it has to be on specific route?

Wondering how this season pass works on the Chennai suburban system. I see they have like 3 or 4 different lines running in different directions in the city. Are they all zone based or works differently? It also says you need to present an ID along with a season pass for it to be valid. Would a foreign driver licence be a valid form of ID?

I suppose I can always get pay as you go type tickets but I figured if I am using the system sporadically, buying a season pass would save the hassle of having to queue up for tickets everytime and a few trips taken would pay for the cost of season pass.

Can someone enlighten me as to how this works? TIA
#2 Nov 3rd, 2010, 13:44
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  • J Arul Jothi is offline
#2
Dear Layne,

The season tickets will be issued from point A to Point B. U can travel between the points A & B, with the help of this season pass. U will be asked to produce a photo, which they ll ask to struck in the identity card and ll impress a seal over it, and then, they ll be issuing the season pass for u.

Hope, had thrown some light.

With Best Regards
Arul Jothi J
#3 Nov 3rd, 2010, 14:04
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#3
Jothi, so what do you mean by from Point A to Point B? There seems to be more than one suburban line running (I see atleast 3 or 4 different lines) so I have to make up my mind as to which two points I'll be traveling before I can acquire a suburban season pass?

Is there something like an Oyster card where you pay as you travel at discounted fares and prepaid?

So they issue their own identity card? And I have to take a photo for this? Anything like a pay for a month and travel all you want type pass you can get from an automatic vending machine? Do they have any such scheme or am I dreaming too much?

Something like an Oyster card might work as well where you prepay and use at discounted rates.
#4 Nov 3rd, 2010, 15:23
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Dear Layne,

Yup, I agree..there are different lines for sub-urban trains, and you have make ur plan pre-determined before acquire season pass. And u may get the season pass that connects 2 or 3 lines.

I am not sure that chennai sub-urban season pass has the facility like Oyster card, but these sort of system is avail in metro-bus transportation.

Yup, they ll be issuing their own identity card with very minimal charge. And, if I am write, no facility of "Pay a month & travel all you want" is avail in sub-urban system.

Best Regards
Arul Jothi J
#5 Nov 4th, 2010, 19:07
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  • harishankar is offline
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Or you can get the suburban railways smart card to avoid queues when buying tickets. This smart card must be used when purchasing tickets at the vending machines and will diminish in value as you use it. This has a deposit amount I believe. Inquire at the ticket office for more details.

As for season tickets, I think it's value is based on your route - start and end point, so it's not a free-for-all-routes ticket.
#6 Nov 4th, 2010, 20:09
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None of the suburban train systems in India have a pay once and travel as you like system. The season ticket is meant for daily commuters and is issued for a specific route only in a class of your choice.

A smart card based prepaid is the best for tourists or infrequent travellers. Its a card that is topped up and you keep buying tickets using that card from automatic vending machines at the stations.
#7 Nov 4th, 2010, 20:26
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  • suricate is offline
#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArnoldLayne View Post Suppose I want to buy a season pass valid for a month for first class,
I'll be surprised if there is first class in Chennai suburban trains. The Kolkata ones have only 2nd class (unreserved). While I don't know how crowded Chennai suburban trains get (in comparison to Kolkata or Mumbai), if I understood your preferences correctly from another thread, Indian suburban trains are no way for you to travel. You could opt for express trains for short distances too, by paying the express fare (if they stop at your stations that is), with relatively less crowd. I don't think you can get season tickets for that, however. A better option would be to rent a private car.
#8 Nov 5th, 2010, 00:36
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Originally Posted by harishankar View Post Or you can get the suburban railways smart card to avoid queues when buying tickets. This smart card must be used when purchasing tickets at the vending machines and will diminish in value as you use it. This has a deposit amount I believe. Inquire at the ticket office for more details.

As for season tickets, I think it's value is based on your route - start and end point, so it's not a free-for-all-routes ticket.
OK so there is a smart card you can top off with a debit or credit card. That is good for starters. I hope this smart card can be topped off using a non Indian cc or debit card and they don't have a zillion restrictions like IRCTC site does.

It is kind of lame that they don't have a pay one fare and ride on all public transport systems like most cities do elsewhere in the world. Those are intended to make a visitor/tourist's life easier while visiting the city without having to go find an Indian government official to notarize your photograph in order to get a season pass to travel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by narendra.d View Post None of the suburban train systems in India have a pay once and travel as you like system. The season ticket is meant for daily commuters and is issued for a specific route only in a class of your choice.

A smart card based prepaid is the best for tourists or infrequent travellers. Its a card that is topped up and you keep buying tickets using that card from automatic vending machines at the stations.
Hmm like I said above, it is lame and I suppose the Indian tourism department is not too keen on making life easier for visitors and tourists to India and probably leave them to the mercy of unscrupulous auto rickshaw and taxi drivers of India who operate without any laws, meters etc.

Yeah I'd be an infrequent traveler so I suppose I'll check into the smart card option as that seems like the only one available. I think I read somewhere that the bus system in Chennai has such an option where you pay one fare and have unlimited rides for a day, week or month.

Quote:
Originally Posted by suricate View Post I'll be surprised if there is first class in Chennai suburban trains. The Kolkata ones have only 2nd class (unreserved). While I don't know how crowded Chennai suburban trains get (in comparison to Kolkata or Mumbai), if I understood your preferences correctly from another thread, Indian suburban trains are no way for you to travel. You could opt for express trains for short distances too, by paying the express fare (if they stop at your stations that is), with relatively less crowd. I don't think you can get season tickets for that, however. A better option would be to rent a private car.
There is a first class in Chennai suburban trains and that much is confirmed. I believe I have tried it as well. I know I would not dare to get on a suburban train during peak hours but it maybe a viable option during offpeak hours and travel by first class. I don't think thee express trains are a good substitute for suburban trains. The suburban trains serve the areas of the city where you want to move about and it is actually a usable option if only you could wipe out 3/4th of the Indian population in a stroke I think it still is a viable option to use during off peak hours where it may not be all the crowded and the first class option further filters the rider pool.

So how much would a private car cost to rent for a month? I am assuming in India you cannot drive by yourself still so you need to rent a car, a driver and adopt his wife and kids LOL So if I rent a car for a month, can I have a driver and a car at my beck and call? I am sure that driver guy would like to go home sometime during the day which restricts the options of you moving around.

And the fact that almost the entire country has a taxi or other private mode of transport with no meters or standards whatsoever does not make it easy either.
#9 Nov 5th, 2010, 07:12
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#9
Dont know about first class fares but I had bought a second class season ticket of 1 month duration, it costed some 70 Rs, I guess on the Beach - Tambaram Route, even though I had to travel from chromepet to guindy only, still I bought the pass for whole route so you can get down anywhere and get on anywhere. And cost of single ticket is 7 Rs from Beach to Tambaram or vice versa. Hence its better to buy the monthly pass even if you are travelling more than 10 times on the route. Benefits are :

Too cheap 70 Rs or so for whole month, travel any no of times. No need to stand in Q queue to buy ticket.

Now there are only three suburban train routes and if you buy single ticket one time you can directly buy to any of the destination from any line to any line. The switching station would be mentioned on the ticket.


Cars are not at all advisable, and trains in chennai are very very less crowded as compared to Mumbai.

The bus ticket is Rs.30/ for one day travel on any route all over the city, in all buses except the AC ones.
Ravi ....
#10 Nov 5th, 2010, 08:07
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Thanks rsk for your detailed info. So I can get a season pass between two stations not necessarily on the same line? That is good. I expect I'll be using the lines that sort of cover the city so I am not entirely sure which lines would that be.

Rs 70 for a whole month? That is like 1 LOL How much is first class? maybe 5? Even if I manage to get a few rides out of it, I'll come out on top. The other reason I want to get one is, the suburban trains seem to get to places faster than anything that runs on roads.

I'll get a bus one as well, if needed. It would be much easier if the private modes of transport like taxi or three wheelers worked properly on a meter. From my past experiences, the whole experience of haggling with the idiot drivers who run those is unnerving and it seems they quote whatever fare that strikes their whim. If only that system was streamlined, people could get in and out without being taken for a ride.
#11 Nov 5th, 2010, 09:43
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#11
Have you tried the tourist rail passes? Indrail passes?

To clarify season tickets are generally not targetted for tourists. It's meant for daily commuters to and from work and makes it convenient and easy for them to travel through the city. The suburban railway system is purely functional and meant for commuters, not tourists. Indian Railways serves millions of Indians each day and that does not make the current system "lame" because you don't have a particular option for travel.

However, what about buying tickets on the go or the smart card system? Suburban train travel is really cheap and won't make that much of a difference for a casual traveller/tourist. Season ticket is for those who are looking to save on ticket fare over a long period of time, say a period of a year or so. Otherwise season tickets make no sense for tourism purposes since the amount saved will be so small as to make no difference.

Of course for convenience sake as stated by rsk you can still get season ticket for the whole route so that you can travel point to point without any issues. I think you will need a passport sized photo and ID proof to get season passes.

List of Chennai suburban routes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chennai_Suburban_Railway

Map:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ch...tivity_map.png

I think on the long distance trains tourist passes are a good idea; these passes are obtainable from Indian Railways.


Some good news though! Recently there was a news that India will soon have a "universal travel pass card" system. With that you can use any train, bus or taxi all over India.

Proposal by Union Ministry of Urban Development:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Go...s-India/705297
#12 Nov 5th, 2010, 11:48
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#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by harishankar View Post Have you tried the tourist rail passes? Indrail passes?
I have been contemplating Indrail pass but yet again, I am hesitant to buy an Indrail pass for the lack of ability to book seats on Indian trains online before I come to India which again is lame. How am I suppose to use an Indrail pass in India when the seats in Indian trains are taken 3 months in advance and the Indian railways will market the Indrail pass overseas and happy to take your USD or GBP and yet won't provide means on their reservation system for the Indrail pass holders to make reservations on trains? Someone from the Indian Railways common sense department should explain me this brilliant logic. And to top it, Indian Railways reservations won't even take a foreign cc for buying regular tickets but luckily you can circumvent that using Cleartrip/MakemyTrip. Also interesting is the fact that Indian Railways allegedly has a special quota for foreign visitors and yet you cannot access this quota from any online reservation system and I have to roll the dice and take a chance to show up and hope they have one of these seats available.

So there is your explanation and my dilemma on the Indrail pass. You can decide on your own how brilliant or stupid this arrangement is.

Quote:
To clarify season tickets are generally not targetted for tourists. It's meant for daily commuters to and from work and makes it convenient and easy for them to travel through the city. The suburban railway system is purely functional and meant for commuters, not tourists. Indian Railways serves millions of Indians each day and that does not make the current system "lame" because you don't have a particular option for travel.
So what is targetted for tourists on Indian trains, suburban or Intercity? Most cities in the world have metro/subway systems along with other options like buses and trams and they all are mainly targetted towards the local commuters who use it everyday. However, the key difference is, all these city transport systems (be it London or NYC or Paris), the visitors to the city are catered through the system as well by selling them daily or weekly passes so they can move around the city and use the system just like locals. Why? Because facilitating things for tourists is revenue for the city.

I see this is a very novel concept on the Indian Railways as they are keen on serving millions of Indians just locally and not keen on serving the visitors to the city or foreign tourists. Sounds like a plan to me LOL

Quote:
However, what about buying tickets on the go or the smart card system? Suburban train travel is really cheap and won't make that much of a difference for a casual traveller/tourist. Season ticket is for those who are looking to save on ticket fare over a long period of time, say a period of a year or so. Otherwise season tickets make no sense for tourism purposes since the amount saved will be so small as to make no difference.
That Smart Card seems like my only viable option and I may end up doing that for lack of choices. The main reason for me to get a season ticket is to save time and hassle of having to queue up each time to buy a ticket for travel. Ok so season tickets don't make sense for tourists. How about a pass with unlimited travel for a short period? Say a day or 3 days or a week?


Quote:
Of course for convenience sake as stated by rsk you can still get season ticket for the whole route so that you can travel point to point without any issues. I think you will need a passport sized photo and ID proof to get season passes.
Forget it. I am not going to waste half a day of my vacation time to queue up and buy a season ticket with passport, photo ID card and proof of bank account etc. I guess I'll either get one of those smart cards or pay as I go.

Thank you. That is useful information. I'll check into it.

Quote:
I think on the long distance trains tourist passes are a good idea; these passes are obtainable from Indian Railways.

Some good news though! Recently there was a news that India will soon have a "universal travel pass card" system. With that you can use any train, bus or taxi all over India.

Proposal by Union Ministry of Urban Development:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Go...s-India/705297
That is great they are proposing a Universal travel pass card. I'll be delighted when it actually comes true LOL Meanwhile someone in Indian Railways can take two minutes of their time to think how on earth will Indrail pass holders book seats on trains before arriving to India. Afterall, these passes are targeted for visitors from abroad and if they sell these passes abroad, common wisdom would dictate they have a mechanism to book seats online using the pass as well. Evidently there is a gap there between selling a pass and mandate the pass requires reservations on trains and not provide a mechanism to do it online.

Thanks for all your help and information.
#13 Nov 5th, 2010, 13:56
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Indian railways is not the most tourist-friendly railway system in the world though there are tourist quotas on many Express long distance trains. Reservation is compulsory on most long distance trains while travelling second class sleeper or above. Of course, you can choose to travel on unreserved coaches as well, but I doubt you would enjoy the experience.

One of the reasons why reservation is compulsory on long distance trains in India is the population and huge demand generated by it. I don't think any changes to the system will help solve the basic problem of too much demand. There is also a thriving black market for tickets through illegal channels which is frustrating for genuine passengers.

Most countries in Europe don't have this problem. That's why tourists in Europe are given free passes to get into any train they like.

On Indian trains most seats or berths are likely to be reserved and since train rakes are already quite long, it's impossible to add more coaches on long distance trains.

Forget tourists, even Indians have to plan train journeys well in advance or we get waitlisted.

It's a problem of too much demand, too little supply. Most main line train routes are chock full through the year and especially in the holiday seasons.


By the way to book train tickets online and also print them, you can book e-tickets (not i-tickets) through IRCTC website. I'm not sure whether it also works with Indrail pass holders though.

http://irctc.co.in/
#14 Nov 5th, 2010, 17:01
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#14
A couple of points, as an Englishman.
If you turn up at Euston station and attempt to buy a ticket on the following day's Highland Express, one of the only two overnight trains left in Britain, on any day of the year, please take a video camera with you and record how rude the staff are to you. I guarantee you they will be a lot ruder than the Indians who will just roll their eyes. Indeed if you try and get on that train during the holiday period and you didn't book it at least a month in advance, just forget it and go straight to Heathrow.

If you are going to want to get an overnight train in India and would prefer not to rough it in SL which during busy periods on major routes gets treated as unreserved 2nd, you are going to have to make your mind up weeks in advance. If you buy an Indrail pass then the agent that sold it to you will make your reservations absolutely free, of both money and hassle. Furthermore, and contrary to anyone advising you to turn up at the foreign tourist counter and beg for sympathy if you change your plans, you can change your plans on an Indrail, just contact the agent. And also, an Indrail is valid on all suburban and local trains, you dont need to go get a ticket, just climb on board, that is true throughout all Indian cities.
You can also get Indrails for very short periods, It's cheaper to buy and reserve the tickets online like an Indian has to (just about no one who has done this more than once does it any other way), but not by a great deal. If you are doing a lot of rail travel over a number of weeks then there just isnt any contest to be had. Buy a pass.
I'd also like to point out that you can buy an AC2 pass for the entire 90 days that your visa will allow you to stay in India for less than the price of one day on one of India's luxury trains. So if you've got that kind of budget to burn then it's almost a no brainer.

here's the address
http://www.indiarail.co.uk/
The Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge
http://gcirc.wordpress.com

The Great Circular European Railway Challenge
http://gcerc.wordpress.com

Chalo! - Sri Lanka Railways Route Finder
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#15 Nov 5th, 2010, 17:10
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by harishankar View Post Indian railways is not the most tourist-friendly railway system in the world though there are tourist quotas on many Express long distance trains. Reservation is compulsory on most long distance trains while travelling second class sleeper or above. Of course, you can choose to travel on unreserved coaches as well, but I doubt you would enjoy the experience.
I sussed that much but I am also dumbfounded by the fact that Indian railways targets foreign tourists to sell their Indrail pass with no means of booking tickets using it unless you do it manually, probably.

Quote:
One of the reasons why reservation is compulsory on long distance trains in India is the population and huge demand generated by it. I don't think any changes to the system will help solve the basic problem of too much demand. There is also a thriving black market for tickets through illegal channels which is frustrating for genuine passengers.
I am well aware of the need for reservations on Indian trains but as someone who does not live there and being sold an Indrail pass, I need a mechanism to reserve those seats. Visitors like me are not going to set foot in India till the day they land so I am puzzled as to why they would sell a pass to tourists without the abiliity to make advance reservations which I am sure the Indian railways is well aware of and also makes it a criterion for Indrail pass.

Why would they not be tourist friendly when they are marketing this pass expecially to foreign tourists and how else are they going to attract tourists and tourism revenue? From my past travel experiences in India, here is my take. India has plenty to offer in terms of tourism but the infrastructure and system is so poor and lagging and if only they do a better job of it to improve facilities, they could be attracting a lot of tourism revenue. But I suppose they are not that interested unless some Indian politician gets a cut out of it. It is a shame because India has a lot to see and visit for tourists if only they marketed it right and facilitated tourism for visitors from abroad.

Most countries in Europe don't have this problem. That's why tourists in Europe are given free passes to get into any train they like.

Quote:
On Indian trains most seats or berths are likely to be reserved and since train rakes are already quite long, it's impossible to add more coaches on long distance trains.

Forget tourists, even Indians have to plan train journeys well in advance or we get waitlisted.

It's a problem of too much demand, too little supply. Most main line train routes are chock full through the year and especially in the holiday seasons.
I am well aware of the population equation and the supply demand equation in India. But as someone who does not live there, I should be given a fair chance to do so. Looks like Cleartrip is my only viable choice and even cleartrip does not let me book tickets anything other than general quota. Oh and that IRCTC site does not work for sh*t. They must run that site on a 14.4 Kbps bandwidth line or something because that site seldom loads or if it does, it freezes up halfway. Cleartrip and MakemyTrip work much better. I suppose Indian software people can write software to run websites in the US and Europe but when it comes to Indian Railways website, it still runs on horse and pony express. Maybe they awarded the IRCTC website contract to the cheapest bidder in a tender offer and they got what they paid for....a really crappy website.

Quote:

By the way to book train tickets online and also print them, you can book e-tickets (not i-tickets) through IRCTC website. I'm not sure whether it also works with Indrail pass holders though.


http://irctc.co.in/
Neither that site nor the private sites like cleartrip or makemytrip has a mechanism to book tickets using a Indrail pass, unfortunately.

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