Aaron in Azerbaijan

Just another blog about Azerbaijan.

Train Ticket Prices Rise; Train System Operations Mystifying

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When I saw this story last week, about a new tiered-pricing system for train tickets based on when you buy, I didn’t think much of it.  I thought, “Yes, that sounds like a good idea.”  But the reality was that it didn’t really affect me too much.  In Lənkəran, while the people at the train station will tell you that you can buy tickets a day ahead of your scheduled departure, I have repeatedly been turned away, ticketless the day before and set to come back on the morning of my intended trip.  This really isn’t a big deal, and that tiered-pricing system above doesn’t really affect me.

So when I heard from others that ticket prices were changing, I didn’t think much of it either.  Until this morning, when I found out that our train tickets to Baku tonight jumped from 4 AZN to 7 AZN, a 75% leap!  What’s going on?  It turns out that in addition to the tiered pricing system, there are also new tariffs being raised on the train tickets:

The ADY statement says that today costs on passenger traffic are 7-8 times higher than the income from them.

“The decision to raise tariffs will ensure economic sustainability of railway transport and competitiveness with other types of transport,” it was reported.

The new tariffs for ADY services have come into force from today.

I’ve expressed my enjoyment of the trains here in Azerbaijan, relative to other forms of travel, here and here.

The last note on trains, though, has to do with the actual purchasing of tickets.  Prices aside, every time I go to the train station in Baku, I feel like I’m seeing the outer shell of a labyrinthine operation, which carries out the duties of a train station through unknowable means.  Last time I was there, I bought a ticket back to Lənkəran.  The first teller I went to looked through her computer system and regretfully informed me that there were no tickets at that time, but that I should return the following morning and more tickets would be released at 10am.  Just as a test, we wandered to a teller a few windows down.  I said I wanted to go to Lənkəran and, her smile curling up as she peered at her screen through thick glasses, she quickly told me there were tickets available, and that two spots were no problem.  What happened here?  I can’t, and probably never will, know how that system works.

We are testing out the system a bit more today.  As we head up to Baku, Eli and I are attempting to coordinate with a fellow Volunteer, Sally.  She’s in Masallı, just north of us.  After buying our tickets, we called her and told her our seats.  Her host family said that with that information, they can call someone they know at their train station to issue her a ticket for the same car and cabin.  Again, no idea how this is going to work out.  And certainly no idea how this works behind the veneer of this operating train system.

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Written by Aaron

February 11, 2011 at 8:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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