Saturday, February 18, 2006

SOFT - railways

I found this in my mailbox today, a soft launch of SOFT, Indian railways frequent flier (roller?) programme

...We are happy to inform you that we will shortly be launching a Loyalty Program - A Scheme for Frequent Travelers (SOFT), wherein members will earn loyalty points for buying AC Class (except 3AC) tickets & will be able to redeem these points for FREE railway tickets...

There were no details in the mail, but I think, they can extend it to all net bookings rather than restrict it to only II AC (is there anything above that?). A scheme that encourages regulars to stick to the train, but more than anything else, the railways need to speed up their services, clock better on punctuality and improve the "comfort" factor for the average traveller. An average speed of 50 km/h does no good when faced with high speed point to point competition (in the shape of low cost airlines) frequent points or no frequent points. How about high speed corridors? Business class trains with slumberettes?

How about some more real superfast trains? A train like this could cut down 24 hour journeys to 12 hour overnight journeys and then some.


Aadisht Khanna said...

I think a much bigger problem than train speed itself is that the same track has to be shared by these superfast trains, mail trains, slow passengers, and freight trains. I suspect that railways will start losing passengers to roads and flights over the next few years. Roads are expanding faster than the railways network, and you wrote about low cost airlines yourself. If bus manufacturers are able to come up with a really value-oriented bus than it could make road transport explode.

Neelakantan said...

Absolutely spot on. The value oriented bus is already here. Visit Raj National Express These guys are to road what the Kingfishers are to air. The road quality though is a big detriment and the Golden Quadrilateral is now a few segments. More on this in a couple of days time.