Harrowing Experience with our Indian Railways


It was a happy as well as sorrowful day for me as I was moving out from Bangalore, the city of my heart and coming back to Kolkata my lovely home town. Leaving Bangalore and the friends, who made the city so special for me was heart breaking…while Kolkata is my hometown, the City of Joy and home to my childhood friends.

I booked my journey in Duronto express from Bangalore to Kolkata on 25th July 2010.I had a lot of homestead goods to carry with me, which I could have sent by road transport but at a huge cost. In the meantime I came to know of the Railway break-van service which was quite inexpensive. I inquired about the same at the railway station where I was told that I can transport the luggage at Rs.4-6/- per Kg. which was very reasonable. I told them I need the luggage to be transported in the same train as I am traveling so that I can collect them immediately.  They confirmed it and asked me to get my goods booked a day earlier to the date of journey. Accordingly on 24th July, 2010 I took the eight cartons of 180 KG to the station. On checking my tickets the booking clerk gave me the form to fill up. After the entire procedure of form filling, weighing, booking and finally getting the booking no. written on the boxes were done, the porters inside the station luggage-godown (in India and East Asia, a warehouse is called a godown, especially one at a dockside) demanded 200 bucks extra to ensure that my luggage is loaded properly. I brushed it out but the porters threatened me with the possibility of my luggage not been loaded on the same train I will be traveling but may be in some other train, even on some other day. While showing a brave face to them I actually got nervous with that remark and went back to the booking counter to verify the veracity of what the porters were threatening me with. I was assured that my luggage will be loaded in the same train I shall be traveling. They suggested to report at least one hour early on the journey date to see for myself how the luggage is loaded. Accordingly I reported the station by 10:00 am while my train was scheduled to depart at 11:15 am. I was keeping an eye if my luggage was properly loaded. The loaders on doing so again asked for some gratification. Filling pity of their plight I had final yielded to their persistent but humble demand and paid them 50 bucks.

On reaching Howrah station at 40 past 4 Pm I found my Dad waiting for me at the station with a Tata Sumo to receive me with the huge luggage. We went to the Luggage van at tail end of the train to take delivery of the same and showed my booking slip to the train guard. I was dump-stuck when we were told by the guard that since I had booked the goods as luggage I had to take the delivery from station godown and not directly from the clerk receiving the goods. He further clarified that had my intention was to receive the goods right from the break van I should have booked the goods as Parcel.

In fact it was my mistake. I was so long inquiring if my luggage will be hauled by the same train I was traveling which they assured. I did not know the nitty-gritty of railway booking procedure. I had seen two separate counters one for Parcel booking and one for luggage booking. I had been to the parcel booking counter 1st and when enquirabout break-bvan service (explaining what exactly I was looking for), they sent me to the luggage booking counter. Assuming they understood my need I bissfully lined up in the luggage booking counter which is the root cause of all the harrowing experience I am going to narrate now.

The clerk who received the goods informed me that the goods will be carried to the station godown only by the men of the contractor, called the platform labourers and not by any other porter as I would have wished and we are to wait till the contractor finds time to lift the goods to be taken to station godown. In the meantime heavy downpour added salt to our misery. We haplessly were waiting for the angel i.e the platform labourers to come to our rescue. Time was passing away adding woe to our misery and rising tension.

It was already 30 past 8 Pm and we did not find any trace of the contractor. The clerk told me that they will come only after carrying the goods of the trains which reached earlier to ours and there are at least two of such trains. We were wandering from one platform to other in vain with a dim hope of finding any solution to our woe. We caught hold of any group of porters carrying trolley to enquire if they are the platform labourers. While we were lost in mental agony and awfully tired, the driver of the Tata Sumo started creating problem by threatening to leave without us. He was some ho pacified.

Finally we could find one who assured us to help as early as possible. Mean time we went to the godown and met the clerk who assured us to clear our goods as soon as it reached him. The trolley finally reached the spot at about 9.30 Pm and carried our goods to the godown.

At the godown end we are lucky that the manager was helpful. Without entering the details of our luggage in the computer on a first-come-first-in basis, he entered our luggage details manually into his register. Otherwise it would have taken another 2 hours to relieve us, had he stuck to official procedures. But in the process we had to grease the hand of one and all, the platform labourers to godown manager. I had also paid extra 100 buck for car parking inside the station for over staying more than schedule 2 hours.

Finally we reached home at mid night which otherwise would have 6.30 PM. Here also I had to pay 100 buck extra to the driver as late night fare.

While sharing my above nightmarish experience with, I advice that one should not bank on other for help without first understanding what one’s precise need is and then search for solution.

In this particular case I was interested to know if my goods will be booked on the same train I am traveling. But never bothered to know what the delivery system at destination is. I took it as granted that once the goods are on the same train it will be delivered to me on the platform itself.

So friends while booking your belongings in break van of the same train you’re traveling:-

1. BOOK IT AS PARCEL AND NOT LUGGAGE IF YOU WANT TO GET THE
INSTANT DELIVERY AT DESTINATION.
2. COLOUR OF THE BOOKING SLIP WILL BE RED OR PINK FOR PARCEL
BOOKING.
3. IT WILL BE GREEN OR BLUE FOR LUGGAGE BOOKING.
4. COST OF PERCEL BOOKING IS ABOUT DOUBLE THAN THAT OF
LUGGAGE BOOKING.

So don’t be colour blind while traveling in train with huge luggage if you want to be smart and save your time hard earned money.

Well that was my experience….did you face anything similar ????

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