A lot of people are not aware that you can travel with your dog on Indian Railways. So no matter where you relocate, you can take your dogs with you!
Even I was not aware of this fact before I decided to relocate with Scooby from Vadodara, Gujarat to Bangalore, Karnataka. I knew he was going to relocate, I did not know how that was going to be possible. Initial internet searches showed it was possible through flights or movers and packers. While the flight option was too risky and expensive, one of my friends had relocated their with packers and movers and strongly advised against it, so what was left was railways option.
Travelling on Indian railways is the easiest, safest, hassle free and the least expensive option, provided you follow all the prerequisite steps. So, in order to help fellow pet lovers, I am stating all the steps in order to make your journey easy and enjoyable.
STEP 1: Book Your Tickets in Advance
Planning ahead is the key. Since you can take your dog along with you only in 1st AC and there are limited number of seats, you need to book your seats as soon as they are available. IMPORTANT NOTE: Since the 1st AC compartments are only available as a coupe (2 people) and a cabin (4 people), you need to book either 2 or 4 tickets in one pnr. If you are booking 4 tickets, nothing like it, jump right ahead to 3rd stage. Also, research online if the train you are looking at accepts pets. Some trains like Rajdhani does not allow traveling with pets.
STEP 2: Contact Indian Railways
If you have booked 2 tickets, there is a glitch. The number of coupes in a train varies and are not as easily available as cabins. Now the thing with 1st AC is that you do not get confirmed coupe/cabin number till after the chart is prepared. If you are not allocated a cabin, then you will be at the mercy of the other two people who would be travelling with you. If they object, your dog is removed to the dog box. In order to avoid this, you need to write a letter to Assistant Commercial Manager – Passenger Reservations of the station from which you are departing. This has to be done personally. On some stations, you need to meet the manager personally, and on some, you can just drop a request letter in a box. If you are breaking your journey in the middle, you would have to arrange the letter/meet the manager there, or arrive one day before. Our journey was from Vadodara to Mumbai via Vadodara express and Mumbai to Bangalore via udyan express. So, we had to meet the manager at Vadodara railways and have an acquaintance visit Mumbai station few days before the journey. This should be done at least one day before the journey.
Here is the sample of letter that I used:
Assistant Commercial Manager – Passenger Reservations
I am traveling from Mumbai to Bangalore on 20th March 2016 in UDYAN Express (11301).
I understand that to travel with a dog without any objections from fellow passengers, I have to either have a coupe or a cabin for myself.
I have booked two first AC confirmed berths for myself and my husband and the PNR num is xxxxxxxxxx.
May I kindly request you to grant me a 2 berth coupe if possible?
STEP 3: Arrive at least 2 hours early
On the date of your journey, ensure that you reach the station at least two hours early. Next, you need to visit the parcel office and show them your confirmed ticket and tell them you are travelling with a dog. They might or might not ask to see the dog. The parcel office at Vadodara just gave us forms to fill and was asked to make payment, but the one at Mumbai wanted to see the dog as well as his vaccination records. Make sure you carry all your dog’s papers. You will be asked to pay a certain sum based on your dog’s weight and the journey. Once the payment is done, you will be given a white slip, keep the slip with you, it is the ticket for your dog that you will need to show to the TC.
And you are done! Enjoy the rest of your journey!
One concern that many people have is how to manage the food and nature’s calls. Scooby eats all the ‘human food’, so even though we had his pedigree with him, he had fun eating the food that is sold in trains, from idlis to ice creams. And as for nature’s calls, check the train timetable, anytime you see a stop that is more than 5 mins, step down on the station, go to the end and have it done. Since 1st AC coaches are anyways near the exit, so it would be easy!
Here are some glimpses of our 2 days journey:
This post is a part of Scooby’s Day Out initiative, where I review all dog friendly places and experiences!