Large Student Group Reservation

#1 Apr 4th, 2010, 21:57
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#1
I seem to be faced with a bit of a problem here. I am from Mumbai and I am organizing a college trip (industrial visit) to Chandigarh in July for which I need group reservation of about 80+ students.

I am familiar with the procedure of acquiring student concession from college but I am facing a problem with availability even though there are 3 months to go. I will most likely be travelling by Swaraj Express 2471 or Paschim Express 2925 to travel from Bandra Terminus (BDTS) to Ambala Cantonment (UMB).

From the website I see the tickets of trains are getting full in just one or two days since the opening day of booking. For example, today is April 4th and already the trains for July 2nd have hardly 28 seats left.

The biggest issue is I don't think I will be able to book tickets for at least another two weeks as the list of student names has not been confirmed from college. Can anyone think of a solution to my problem?
#2 Apr 5th, 2010, 01:51
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#2
For some reason, group reservations get asked about frequently of late.

As one poster commented, many (major) railway stations have a special counter for the purpose. (Where there isn't any, it can still and ought to be handled through the regular counters no doubt.)

In short, you'll have to go through these anyway, certainly if you want to be seated together, you can't do this online (and for numbers like these you can't anyway I don't think).*

They will advise you on best procedures etc. So handle it at the railway station; there's nothing to stop you from making enquiries there now beforehand, even if you don't know the final number yet.

* If you were to be willing to be seated separately, you could simply make separate online reservations, but you can only make an X nr. per month I think, each allowing for a Z nr. of passengers per reservation. This won't cover for a group like this I'm pretty sure. (I think but can't be sure it's 10 x 5.)

The problem of some trains swiftly getting booked out is just a given; again, let those guys advise you on how best to proceed.
#3 Apr 5th, 2010, 03:19
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#3
Ask about attaching a special coach to the train. When I used to be a student (a few decades ago) this used to be a fairly strightforward thing. At the desination the coach would be shunted off to a siding and attached to the train again for the return journey. Under certain conditions we could also use the coach for sleeping during our stay. In those days of course one always travelled with a bedding-roll.
#4 Apr 5th, 2010, 03:29
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Good point yes, I hadn't wanted to bring it up, as I know next to nothing about the details of it.

But it appears to be possible to rent (or even buy? Or only the latter?) a carriage yes, this can then, given certain limitations, be hooked up to existing trains.

(There was once the ambitious idea of acquiring an IndiaMike touring carriage just for the purpose... No, before you guys get all excited, there turned out to be -- too -- many hoops and hurdles.)

Again, I don't know anything about possibilities, costs, or nothing. My idea had been if you enquire with the appropriate folks at the railway station, they will suggest the possibility if it does (still) exist. Can't hurt to ask about it if they don't though.

The OP being Indian (one assumes), I suppose I don't need to remind you any such enquiries, nor the actual booking, will be unlikely to take just five minutes, right. Allow for a free afternoon or evening or so to look into it. I've stood next to such groups when their counter was conveniently shared with the (my) foreigner's reservation one, aaargh #$% . Luckily, the clerk would usually finally (that in itself can take an hour or so, mind) take pity on me and help me first, or inbetween rather
#5 Apr 5th, 2010, 06:50
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Yeah, first get the names and numbers all sorted out and then approach the bulk booking section of any station. They will take care of it.
#6 Apr 5th, 2010, 11:06
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#6
Thanks a lot for your responses everyone. Yes I will be going to the Railway Office in the next couple of days to enquire, and I will post my experiences here when done.

Concerning the renting/buying special carriages: I will be enquiring about this but I highly doubt this would be possible at the usual rates, and being a college trip, it is unlikely we will have the funds to pull of such a deed.
#7 Apr 5th, 2010, 12:01
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#7
It's possible and in keeping with what Golghar reported albeit from some time ago, you wouldn't be renting (let alone buying for this purpose of course; I was just referring to some other things I've heard in the field) a carriage so much, but it may (or may well not, or no longer these days -- I really don't know) be possible they arrange a carriage for you to be hooked up anyway. At possibly no (real) extra costs then. (Either that, or reserve an extant one for you, availability provided, you'd think. Or however many you may require -- how many go in a carriage anyway? I forget.)

If you could let us know your findings here, that would be most helpful yes, so we can advise others in future.

If his option of possibly using the cabin as your lodging during your stay would still hold true, then that would open up that more possibilities of course! Great thought really, had never heard of it before.
#8 Apr 5th, 2010, 12:16
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#8
btw

Quote:
Originally Posted by machadinha View Post * If you were to be willing to be seated separately, you could simply make separate online reservations, but you can only make an X nr. per month I think, each allowing for a Z nr. of passengers per reservation. This won't cover for a group like this I'm pretty sure. (I think but can't be sure it's 10 x 5.)
I again can't be sure of how many bookings per month or how many persons per booking, but if you work that out (the IRCTC site will probably tell you), a couple of your fellow students and you could book all the seats online in one go of course. You'd just not necessarily be seated all together (those on the same booking would be seated as close to one another as possible).

I suppose for your purposes the sooner you can get online to do this after the booking opens (normally ninety days ahead) the better yes. Don't be too shocked by trains being booked full immediately btw; a lot of those seats will get canceled again later down the line. It doesn't tell you that much. It just sort of inherently comes with the way the Indian Railways booking system works, it has its definite pros and cons. Hence those endless waitlists that then mysteriously evaporate at the last minute, and whatnot. It makes it hard to predict though.

Anyway, just another thought, and a possible alternative. But trundle over to the station and see what they say in the meantime yes.

Oh, and, guys (gals included) : No offense, but I would hate to be stuck in a cabin with the lot of you. Let's keep it not too rowdy, shall we, and have some consideration for your fellow passengers, many of whom will be commuting or making a rare and not easily afforded long-distance trip to their relatives or whatever (besides the odd foreign goofball like me crisscrossing all over your country & finding it generally all highly interesting, albeit that too within certain limits), and may want some peace of mind.
#9 Apr 5th, 2010, 13:05
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#9
btbtw And as an afterthought on that, you say you'll be 80+ but don't know yet. If you know how many max. you'll be, you could book all those seats, then cancel what you don't need later.

Canceling costs you next to nothing; which again helps explain why those waitlists fill up then empty again at the last moment.

Anyway these are all really just sidesteps; the advice remains to just see what you can find out at the station first. It may all turn out to be fairly straightforward, and yes, who knows, if they arrange some carriage to have you all together, then so much the merrier, right.
#10 Apr 5th, 2010, 13:30
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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by machadinha View Post
Oh, and, guys (gals included) : No offense, but I would hate to be stuck in a cabin with the lot of you. Let's keep it not too rowdy, shall we, and have some consideration for your fellow passengers, many of whom will be commuting or making a rare and not easily afforded long-distance trip to their relatives or whatever (besides the odd foreign goofball like me crisscrossing all over your country & finding it generally all highly interesting, albeit that too within certain limits), and may want some peace of mind.
Well said! I picked up my repertoire of bawdy songs on trips like this. The staff members assigned to "supervise" us on these trips just had to grin and bear it. I think the Railways were also quite keen to keep us segregated from their other paying passengers.
#11 Apr 5th, 2010, 14:24
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#11
I wouldn't be surprised if they'd be more than happy to keep y'all in your own well-secluded area if they can help it, no
#12 Apr 5th, 2010, 19:48
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#12
Haha, its true it can get annoying for the casual travelling couple to be stuck with a huge group of college students.

I enquired at the railway office at Bombay Central and Churchgate (both in Mumbai) today and this is the info I got:

The train already runs with 24 compartments, so they aren't sure if they will add more, and even if they do, its very expensive [Rs. 50,000 security deposit + extra cost for when it runs on empty load after the dropoff point + extra cost per hour that it waits idle before/after journey because it has to be returned to the source station, and our trip being 10 days long, that means in excess of 7 lakhs ]

Now, the other option would be to just start booking the day it opens (this thursday), but as I mentioned, its difficult to get all the names ready even if I know the exact number. The man in the office said that even if I get a few days late, there isn't a guarantee that I may even get confirmed tickets and this sounds really scary.
#13 Apr 5th, 2010, 23:40
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#13
So as Mach suggested arm yourself with about 100 names, (some of which are characters from novels) and book tickets as soon as possible. After you know the true number, cancel those extra tickets.
#14 Apr 6th, 2010, 00:18
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#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jusmail View Post arm yourself with about 100 names, (some of which are characters from novels)
<Racking brain> Jusmail, can you confirm this? I think these days it is no longer all passengers who need to be able to show their ID, only the person in whose name the ticket is booked.

If this is the case, then this would work yes.*

btw Thanks for detailed feedback on that carriage business, Rohan. Expensive joke yes. Pity.

* Fun experiment: Book them all in the name of Rohan Kumar I, Rohan Kumar II, etc.
#15 Apr 19th, 2010, 21:38
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#15
It's been some time since all the above happened so I'm just posting my experiences here in case someone needs the info again.

I found out that the Paschim Express slip route has many more seats available than the main train so I could actually wait it out until I got a final count and list of all names before I booked my journey.

The special bulk reservation thing never happened, we just went to the station to purchase the tickets (6 per person) and booked 100+ tickets. It isn't very difficult, if the college co-operates with all the necessary documentation/letters/stamps for securing student concession for so many people.

If anyone needs help in a similar situation especially regarding how to get the concession documentation processed feel free to ask.
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