This one’s for trainspotters 🤓.
The people at the retreat booked my train ticket. It was for class 2AC (second class, air-conditioning). This is often the best class available.
When the ticket was booked for me, it was not “confirmed”. Therefore I went on the waiting list. If an existing confirmed ticket holder for a particular class cancels their ticket, those on the waiting list of that class are given a ticket and told their seat is confirmed.
Indian trains are often full, especially particular routes. This is an interesting system because even if a train is full, you may still get a ticket for your class. However, the longer the waiting list, the less likely you are to get a ticket. In my case, the waiting list was one. So the person booking my ticket confidently predicted that my ticket would be confirmed the following day and he would tell me the seat allocated.
This morning, as I went to breakfast, the man came rushing to me saying the ticket had not been confirmed: it had been cancelled! He said that this was no problem and that I should buy a “general ticket”, which are always available, then, once on board, ask the ticket inspector to sell me a 2AC ticket. I wondered how he could sell me a ticket if they were all sold out!
As I descended Mount Abu via bus to get to Abu Road railway station, I thought why didn’t I just buy the ticket myself. When I buy a ticket, I only buy confirmed tickets, not liking the uncertainty of going on the waiting list. Now I was thinking I could end up squashed with hundreds of other people or, even worse, on the roof of the train, as I’ve seen on TV programmes!
The train, not unusually, was late – eventually getting in an hour late to Abu Road. I found myself at the wrong end of the platform! So I rushed to the AC end and got on. There were lots of empty seats in 2AC! I wondered if people would be getting on later and occupying them. However, the seats were actually sleepers (beds) and they had used blankets and pillows on them, which meant they had been occupied and the people had got off. Now I understood why I was likely to get a seat: the ticket system didn’t allow for people getting off the train before the train terminated (and therefore vacating their reserved seats) and leaves it to the inspector to allocate – officially or unofficially 😉.
So I sat down and waited for the ticket inspector. And waited. And waited. I was told he was on his way.
The journey itself was uneventful but slow. Some people had been on the train for two nights, having started down south in Kerala!
The train got to Jodhpur two hours late. I asked a woman why the train was late and she said that there had been “signal problems”! Another British legacy to India 😉
I’d been on the train for five hours and the ticket inspector hadn’t appeared!
Lonely Planet said that there are loads of touts at Jodhpur station. So I asked the hotel to pick me up at the station. I didn’t have much hope given the train was two hours late.
I got off the train and, after a quick phone call to the hotel, the rickshaw driver found me. He had been waiting two hours! Now that’s what I call good service!
By the way, if you’re interested in train travel in India, or around the world, see https://www.seat61.com, an excellent site 🤓.