Taking a bicycle on Chennai Mail train
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| Member

Taking a bicycle on Chennai Mail train

Hi again. I've decided to get the train from Ernakulam Town to Chennai rather than fly (for a few reasons).

After registering with IRCTC [cry] I managed to buy an AC2 bunk on the "CHENNAI MAIL (12624)". I was wondering if anyone knew if there are any restrictions for taking things such as bicycles on this type of train?

I'm aware that it will mean arriving at the station a couple of hours early to buy a separate ticket for it to go in the brake-van, but I'm not sure where or how I will get it wrapped in sacking or strong paper, which apparently is required.

Any info of experiences would be much appreciated. Many thanks.

4 Replies

| The Silent One

Taking a bicycle on Chennai Mail train

Usually there are folks nearby the station who manage the packaging for a fee, at times considerable. The person at the parcel office would be able to guide you there. ( Normally - exceptions may be there when such a facility may not be available close by)
Sar Pass Trek , Rohtang, Munnar, Badrinath Kedarnath, Vaishnodevi, Goa, VOF, Kedarkantha, Kuari Pass, Brahmatal Trek
| Member
Thanks! If I know what they require in the way of packing then I could source the stuff in Kochi and take it with me to the station for a DIY job. Presumably some string and fabric would be OK?
| Member
Well that was an experience? I spent literally hours searching Cochin for "strong brown paper" (presumably what would be known in the UK as parcel paper) which is what Indian Railways stipulate on their website. There isn't any there!! I went from shop to paper merchant to DIY store, etc always being told "They will have it" but they never did. If it wasn't for the temperature and humidity it would almost have been humorous. I ended up walking over 14 miles and was still empty handed.

On the way to the station the next day I saw some thin white foam sheeting on the pavement so took that with me. Once at Ernakulam Town station I wrapped the frame extensively and then went through the tortuous form-filling ritual I'd gotten used to during my stay in India. Everything done in duplicate with duplicating paper (haven;t seen that in the UK since the 70's) with forms being blown all over the office by the ceiling fan.

Although I's done all the packing myself I was more or less forced into "tipping" the porter Rs 50 for his "tea money" to make sure it got on the train. I still hovered by the bike until my train was pulling in to make sure the porter would get the correct train and then had to make a dash to the completely opposite end of the train to my 2A carriage. I know from previous trains in Sri Lanka that to try and do this through the train corridors and vestibules carrying 2 heavy bags is nigh-on impossible.

Christ, these trains are long!! Not sure exactly how many carriages the Chennai "Express" had but they seem ed to go on forever. Certainly over 3 times longer than anything in the UK. The journey itself was uneventful. The bunk wasn't as nice as I was expecting compared to Thai trains but the toilet cubicles were clean and efficient.

What awaited me at Chennai was also predictably tortuous. I waited outside my carriage (A1 so nearest the exit) for 20 minutes until the thousands of other passengers disembarked - I couldn't have made it past them in any case. I slowly realised that me bike wouldn't be coming my way anytime soon so I wandered up to the far end of the train where I presumed my bike had been loaded. Sure enough, there is was on the platform. Relief! That's when the fun started!

I showed a porter my receipt and he pointed vaguely across the tracks (still at the "other" end of the platform). I followed other porters manhandling goods and ended up in a parcel-handling area. Finally someone pointed me to an office where there was a lengthy queue. To kill time I started unwrapping my bike but someone shouted at me not to do this. Finally I handed over my receipt. More forms were filled in and I was handed another form (in duplicate). I had no idea what this was for but followed others to another section of the site where there was another queue. Again I started to unwrap the bike only to be told again not to do this!

Finally I handed the second copy of the form in to the office, signed a form and was more or less swept along with the flow out into one of the busiest streets in Chennai, where I had to try and find a few square feet of space (not easy) to unwrap the bike. It was 11.15 am by now (75 minutes since arriving) and it was 40c and sweltering!

Hopefully this will be of help to others. To be perfectly honest it's really put me off ever trying to take my bike on Indian trains again - it's just too stressful. But if I do I certainly won't waste any time looking for "strong brown paper".
| Maha Guru Member
Sounds like that worked out well. You got the bike in one piece on the other end :D

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