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Blog Entry# 2499190
Posted: Oct 06 2017 (15:09)

4 Responses
Last Response: Oct 06 2017 (16:53)
  
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Oct 06 2017 (11:05)   For those who can’t afford it, Pune businessman books two entire trains for pilgrimage | The Indian Express

বিদায় আইআরআই^~   528 news posts
Entry# 2499190   News Entry# 319144         Tags   Past Edits
Five years ago, Pune-based businessman Shivdas Manohar Ubale had sponsored the train tickets of 500 pilgrims to Varanasi. While the pilgrims were overjoyed, Ubale realised that the process of booking tickets for 500 people and handling the logistical details — name, age, address etc — was a tedious and chaotic process. So, when Ubale decided to sponsor a trip for thousands of pilgrims to Kanyakumari, Madurai and Rameswaram this year, he decided to book two entire trains.
The two special trains, with 20 bogies each, left from Khadki station in Pune on August 15 and August 16, carrying nearly 2,000 passengers each for a week-long journey. Ubale and his wife Vasundhara also accompanied the pilgrims. “There are a lot of people
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who wish to visit such places but are often not able to do so due to financial constraints. Since August is the month of shravan, I wanted to do something religious this year, so I decided to organise this pilgrimage,” said Ubale, who runs a restaurant in Wagholi and owns a few farms.
Two months before the pilgrimage, Ubale issued advertisements about the trip through hoardings and pamphlets. Initially, he had plans to book just one train, but when the number of inquiries from pilgrims kept increasing, he booked one more. Other than sponsoring the journey, Ubale also arranged for food and accommodation for the pilgrims for the entire journey. “We asked the pilgrims to carry only clothes for the trip. The rest of the items, such as toiletries, were taken care of by us,” said Vasundhara Ubale.
Sponsoring the trip was the easier part, said Vasundhara, adding that making sure that everything went as per the plan required much more effort. A database with details about the passengers, including their names, addresses and mobile numbers, was prepared. On the day of the journey, almost 40 buses were arranged; they picked up the pilgrims from various areas, like Wagholi, Ubalenagar, Wagheshwar Nagar, Wadalevasti and others, and ferried them till Khadki station.
A group of 100 volunteers — 50 in each train — were appointed by Ubale to look after the passengers. Each train also had five doctors, who attended to pilgrims if they felt unwell. “It was a major responsibility… we had to make sure that no one had any reason to complain. At every halt, I would visit a bogie to cross-check if the passengers were fine or if they needed something,” said Vasundhara.
Manoj Jhanvar, spokesperson of Railways, Pune Division, said, “These are special trains that are called FTRs (Full Tariff Rate). Individuals can book such a train online also and the request is forwarded to the Mumbai headquarter. The approval for such a trip depends on the availability of coaches and the date of journey, among other factors. Usually, within a year, we get about 5-6 such bookings but most of them are either for marriages or for political conventions. Sometimes, religious groups book trains for pilgrimages also.” Other than the charge for every passenger, which is more than the normal train fare, booking a train also entails detention charges, service charge, security deposit etc.

4 Public Posts - Fri Oct 06, 2017

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