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  #1  
Old 12 Nov 2008
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Chennai Express & motorbike transport

Hi, does anyone know if it is possible to transport a motorbike from Mumbai to Chennai by Chennai Express ? Any experiences ?
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  #2  
Old 18 Nov 2008
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Procedure

Most trains have a luggage car, and the bike will be transported on that. You need not actually travel ON that train.

Procedure.
  • Go to the parcel office at the station and ask as to whether it is possible to use the train of your choice to transport your bike.
  • If yes, ask as to who will be packing it, and you will be directed to meet the porters outside who will quote a fee of about INR150, with material. You need not actually get the bike along. Clear up that this should include loading the vehicle too.
  • When you do get the bike to the station, 24hrs before the departure time of the train, be sure to drain it of ALL the petrol. ALL, not even a drop, unless you like paying large bribes (petrol in the tank is a criminal offence).
  • Book your bike in at the parcel office, most people under invoice the value of their bikes, as the cost is based on weight + % of the value. Chennai to Mumbai should be INR 1500 or less.
  • Once the bike is booked, contact the porter and ask him to pack it. You may want to remove mirrors, indicators, levers, and pack separately as there is a strong possibility that stuff will be dumped on top in the train. Usually these guys pack quite well, there is a small chance of damage, though.
  • You need not be present when the bike is loaded.
  • You need not be present when the bike is unloaded. You simply have to go to the destination parcel office and claim your bike from the platform where it will have been stored.

A few hints.

Do not ship to Mumbai. You will have to cough up octroi before your bike is released or have a long argument with the people in charge at the parcel office trying to prove that you are not here to settle down and sell your bike. Ship to some station up the line, take delivery, and ride it in.

Why don't you ride it up?? You will make at least 3-4 trips to get your bike shipped/collected (essentially, the equivalent of one entire day spent at a couple of smelly parcel offices).

Chennai Mumbai is mostly good roads, Chennai BLr (330 km) takes just 4 hrs, and Blr Mumbai (1000 km) takes about 15hrs.

Unless you are riding one of the leaky, temperamental ("with character") anachronisms made in Chennai, in which case kindly ignore the time predictions.
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  #3  
Old 18 Nov 2008
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Hi a1arn, thanks for the detailed info. In my case, I have to pickup the (rental) bike in Mumbai but actually do start the trip in Chennai. Yes, it is one of the "anachronisms made in Chennai" (hopefully not leaky). So I would prefer to avoid the 1200km trip. Is it possible to ship the bike alone by train ? BTW, are there other reliably transport companies doing that trip ?

P.S. Does BLr mean Bengaluru ?
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  #4  
Old 18 Nov 2008
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Yes, you could courier the bike (believe GATI does it). The guy who rented it to you (Andy?) may be able to help you as well.

You need not travel with the bike on the train. Yes, Blr is the abbreviation for Bengaluru
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  #5  
Old 18 Nov 2008
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Yes, the bike is from Andy (Indiabike). They ask for Rs.7.500, which is quite a bit...
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  #6  
Old 18 Nov 2008
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We were so fed up with the traffic, that we thought about putting our bike on a train from Agra to Mumbai. The price didnt seem bad at all. But it was a 650cc japanese bike, which we´d been riding from home, and we got big crowds around us anywhere we stopped, somehow felt like it may be a bad idea to put it to travel on its own.

And we had stuff for a 6-month trip, like all our riding gear, many panniers, etc, that we didnt want to try dragging around ourselves. So all those probably would´ve needed to be transported separately, maybe put them all in some cargo box or something.

They suggested that we´d put the bike on one train, and then followed the day after or so, because there isnt a lot of time to load the bike, so that sounds like they would´ve wanted me to be present then.

"You go to the Mumbai parcel office to pick it up"-part was where we got suspicious, whether we´d actually be able to find everything we sent, and in good condition, and if not, then what kind of mess it would´ve been...... so in the end, we decided to just ride down. What was mentioned here about Mumbai, makes me think we probably made the right choice!

But if you got a bike that doesnt draw attention as much, and you have less luggage to go with it, then sure it might work. And trains are a nice way to travel in India.
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  #7  
Old 18 Nov 2008
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GATI can do. It would be even less than I've expected: about Rs. 2.500,- assumed the bikes weight is 175 kg. In case others are interrested, here the link to GATI

Last edited by xoxman; 18 Nov 2008 at 13:58.
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  #8  
Old 17 Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a1arn View Post
Do not ship to Mumbai. You will have to cough up octroi before your bike is released or have a long argument with the people in charge at the parcel office trying to prove that you are not here to settle down and sell your bike. Ship to some station up the line, take delivery, and ride it in.

Unless you are riding one of the leaky, temperamental ("with character") anachronisms made in Chennai, in which case kindly ignore the time predictions.
We are considering taking a train(with bike on board) from Kerala to Dehli in June 2009.
It will probably have to go through Mumbai I imagine. If we and the bike have to change trains in Mumbai will we be running into the same problems a1arn has outlined above?

Although we arent riding a temperamental domestic anachronism, our bike is leaky and very slow.

Kerala to Dehli on the road in June sounds a bit tough to me.

Anyone put thier bike on a train for this distance?
Changing trains a problem?

Cheers
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  #9  
Old 17 Feb 2009
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Late 2008, I shipped my Enfield 350 from New Delhi to Ft. Cochi (Ernakulam, actually). They lost it for a few days and when I got it back they had screwed it up. Nothing too expensive but it'd seen better days.

I got frustrated by Delhi traffic (stuck there for 2 weeks waiting for a package from my sister that customs took forever to clear). I took a plane and put my bike on a train. I was planning on riding, and eventually gave up on getting the package.

I wouldn't bet that the bike would arrive the same time as me, even if I was on the same train.

Oh yeah, the thing about no fuel in the tank. I had a lock on my fuel tap so with the hose hanging down it was treated as empty. Can't make any promises it'd happen for everyone, but I did it both times I put my bike on a train.
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  #10  
Old 17 Feb 2009
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A1arn's advice is detailed and helpful. On every major station's platform between Dec2008 and Jan 2009, I saw bikes ready for train shipping. Yes, you can have bureaucratic problems in India, but mostly you will be OK, given the decent nature of the people. I think they're the friendliest people I've ever met.

Don't forget to ask for the "Tourist Quota" when you book tickets. It's at a separate window on main stations. Also if you can book ahead, use the Railway Retiring Rooms on main stations if you want decent, cheap accommodation on arrival.

Check your rail map for Mumbai, as there are 3 main stations you might have to use. Some names have changed recently to eradicate colonial influence, (ChurchGate, Victoria Terminal :VT: etc) though they are still used in speech. Do not, repeat not, use Mumbai's commuter trains during rush hour if you have baggage. It's absolute hell on earth.

Kerela to Delhi will be very tough BTW; you can do it but will you enjoy it? IMO, no.

Offtopic; Cochi , mentioned above is very interesting. From Ernakulum go to the ferry point, then Old Cochin.
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  #11  
Old 18 Feb 2009
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Thanks guys.
Dave, can you explain a little more what happened to your bike?
Was it damaged from stuff being stacked on top of it, from it falling over or from people fiddling with it?
Do you think my pannier boxes will be "tampered" with if left with the bike?

Thanks for the tips Caminando.
Dont plan to stop at Mumbai this trip, if we do train it will hopefully go straight through.
Will this mean having to use commuter trains? Sorry I havent traveled by trains at all! Complete noob.

Can petrol be bought at train stations?
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Old 18 Feb 2009
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The front fender was a little more beat up and covered with glue, and a footpeg was bent (not sure how they did that). A BFG helped push the footpeg back into position.

I took my panniers with me. I think they'd be tampered with. The bike might sit outside for a long time.

Sometimes there's petrol stations near train stations. What train station are you leaving from and which one will you be traveling to?

The paperwork isn't so bad and you'll probably be approached by people who will want to do it for you for a fee.

Picking the bike up in Delhi after putting it on the train in Hyderabad/Securabad was a pain in the ass. I can't remember which train station it was. For some reason it wasn't the one I shipped it out of (over by Connault Place). They dropped it off at Track 11 but it's only labeled Track 1 through 10. The employees insisted they only had 10 tracks but there is 11. I gave up after 45 minutes of trying to find track 11 and called an Indian friend. It still took almost an hour to find it since employees insist they just have 1-10.
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  #13  
Old 18 Feb 2009
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Thanks Dave.

I think we will take the panniers with us as per your advice.

I am worried about switches and taps being broken while the bike is out of my sight though.

Maybe I could take a small bottle of petrol on the train to put in the bike on arrival.
Dont have any idea what stations we will be starting from or where we will be heading really at this stage. I just dont like the idea of riding all that way in the heat of June. Any train from the south going to the north is the basic plan so far.

Still not sure if passing through Mumbai with the bike on our train is gonna cause us the grief Caminando and a1arn have mentioned.

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Old 18 Feb 2009
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They'll get your bike there. It might be a few days after you arrive, but mine made it.

You pay so they'll cover the bike with hay and burlap to protect it. It's not the best but it was enough for me, even after damaging my bike. I figure if I didn't want my bike damaged, I wouldn't be riding it. It's India after all.

You can also get it in a truck which might be safer. Depending on your point of view for how safe trucks in India are. Not sure how much that costs. It was too much of a pain for me since it was crossing state lines and my paperwork was sketchy and the matter of baksheesh. My bike was passed from tourist to tourist since 1997. Speaking of, if you meet a seppo named Bergen on an Enfield tell him Dave Smith said howdy.
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Old 18 Feb 2009
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I do not think you will have any issue as such transporting it on the train to delhi, as there are at least two (and probably several more) direct trains between Delhi and Kerala, so it may not need to be offloaded in Mumbai at all in the first place. It's also pretty unlikely that it would be loaded in a train that terminates in Mumbai when there are direct trains available. As such the octroi issue does not arise. Just make sure that there is nothing in the tank, and your interaction with officialdom will be reduced to a minimum.

And please do NOT carry any petrol in the train unless you are prepared to get into some really deep s*** if found out. This is something taken pretty seriously! You can easily hire a taxi and get petrol in a bottle at your destination station, and ride out (or have somebody you know in Delhi ride in with a bottle of the stuff once you finish getting your bike out of the station, the most painless option). It's highly unlikely that you will have to push till the pump.

Further, even if you choose to stopover in Mumbai for a couple of days, it would not make any difference to the bike - it would simply wait at Delhi for a couple of days, and a grubby, fully covered bike is unlikely to be tampered with. The extra charge would be pretty minimal as well.

Things do go wrong sometimes (bikes go "missing" for a few days/get unloaded at the wrong station instead), but anything more than paint damage and small dents (if that) is pretty rare.

Usually bikes are packed quite well, with jute and packing material, and the switchgear and stuff will be pretty much hidden - you could request the guy packing it to do so. The damage is caused by poor loading and unloading procedures, and due to the fact that stuff tends to get dumped on them. There's not much you can do about that, except pad the tank, etc while packing it. Once packed, the chances of pilferage/bystanders fiddling around with it are pretty remote. Please do detach anything that sticks out such as indicators/mirrors/GPS mounts and the like, at the time of packing.

Road transport through GATI or some other well known couriers is definitely an option, though a bit more expensive. There are also other couriers who use the rail network and may take better care of your vehicle - I'd be able to dig out a number in a couple of days when I get back home. Their rates are cheaper than the "road" couriers but more than rail, and very importantly, they may pick/deliver up AT your doorstep, but you will have to talk with them regarding the same.

In June there will be every chance of you hitting heavy rain in South India, and searing tarmac melting heat in the north - in other words, unless you are comfortable with the conditions it may be better to transport the bike as you have planned. Of course, heat is no longer a factor if you ride at night - this is only an option for you North of Ahmedabad as there is less traffic and the road is a well maintained dual carriageway, south of AHD, even though the road is a dual carriageway at most places, traffic conditions are chaotic even at night, and not recommended unless you have quite a few night riding hrs in India under your belt.
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