The Indian Railways has authorised zonal railway officials to temporarily stop the sale of platform tickets during festive season. City railway officials,however,feel it will be difficult to implement the directive,as the circular states that the restriction will not be applicable to those escorting aged,illiterate and women passengers.
Till now,we havent faced a problem in managing the crowd at the stations. It might be a little difficult to implement the directive. Also,restricting sale of tickets will result in loss of revenue, said a western railway (WR) official.
An on average,2,000 platforms tickets are sold daily at Mumbai Central,while around 8,000 tickets are sold at bigger stations,including Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. With each ticket costing Rs 5,the railways stands to lose significant revenue. During festivals and vacations,the loss of revenue is likely to be more.
Though revenue was crucial,excess crowd at railway stations could create security issues,said Railway Protection Force officials. According to a central railway (CR) official,the problem of excess crowd was realised by ticket checkers during festivals. The checkers said there were instances where four people escorted one passenger.
However,officials said though security at stations was a serious issue,the clause permitting people to escort elderly,illiterate and women passengers could be risky and railways would have to deploy extra staff to ensure compliance with the directive.
Also,if entry of people escorting passengers is restricted,the railways will be obligated to provide more porters and luggage trolleys,which may not be possible, a railway official said.
Atul Rane,Chief Public Relations Officer of CR,said,We will defer the implementation of the directive for as long as it is possible for the administration to manage crowd during the festive season and vacations. If a situation arises where we are required to control the crowd at stations,we might consider restricting sale of platform tickets.
On board housekeeping service has come as relief for long-distance passengers
MUMBAI: Passengers on board the Gitanjali Express were relieved to learn that there was a set of janitors to clean the coaches and toilets at regular intervals of the over 30-hour journey between Howrah and Mumbai. Reserved coaches of 11 trains on the western railways (WR) and 37 on the central railways (CR) had been provided with on-board housekeeping service (OBHS) for the past two years,significantly improving the cleanliness levels of long-distance trains,railway officials said.
According to railway statistics,between April 2012 and March 2013,around 20 complaints pertaining to cleanliness were received from passengers. This fell to six between April and August this year for trains,which were covered under the OBHS scheme.
A team comprising a janitor and a supervisor is deployed for every three coaches for timely action on passenger complaints. OBHS is expected to keep the toilet floor and fittings dry; spray disinfectants and air fresheners inside toilets; mop compartments,doorways and vestibules; spray air freshener in AC coaches; and wipe platform-side window glasses of AC coaches at stations where the train halts for at least five minutes. In addition to these routine activities,the staff is also required to clean coaches when some liquid is spilled by passengers,spray mosquito repellants and also collect garbage at regular intervals.
Prerna Sharma,a passenger,said,A long distance train journey is feared as cleanliness levels go down with every passing hour. The condition of toilets become worse by the second day of the journey. However,the OBHS scheme has helped maintain cleanliness on trains.
Atul Rane,Chief Public Relations Officer,CR,said,Earlier,passengers had to depend on cleaning staff at railway junctions to get toilets cleaned. With the OBHS,the railways has managed to ensure that passengers do not have to wait for long. They can just inform the coach crew.
He added that while inspections were carried out to check the service provided by OBHS,contractors were also counselled on receipt of passenger feedback.
A WR official said,The feedback of passengers has been good,as the number of complaints regarding cleanliness has reduced. However,there have been cases where we have imposed fines for lack of service.
According to the officer,WR imposed a fine of Rs 26,000 on contractors,this year.
Protest at CST disrupts services
MUMBAI: Around 4,000 persons with disabilities and local farmers staged a protest at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) on Wednesday,leading to disruption of services.
Among their demands,the protesters sought new housing scheme for disabled persons,reservation of three per cent in allocation of commercial establishments for the handicapped,reservation of beds in government hospitals for mentally challenged persons and a hostel for disabled students in every district of the state. Farmers alleged that forest officials were using their for their own purposes. Independent MLA Bachchu Kadu led the protesters,demanding a meeting with the Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. The protesters called off the agitation after Minister of State for Social Justice Sachin Ahir addressed the crowd in the evening.
The agitation began at Azad Maidan at 10 am. The protesters staged rail roko at CST from 4.40 pm to 4.57 pm,which resulted in suspension of suburban services.
According to a Central Railway spokesperson,Harbour lines as well as main line services were affected. Four services were cancelled and 15 others were delayed by 15-20minutes.