The service is free, says Station Manager
R. Ramesh, a Saibaba Colony resident, was very happy to avail of the battery car service at the Coimbatore Railway Junction on the first day of its launch on Wednesday. It used to take his 86-year-old mother, R. Rajalakshmi, considerable time to reach the coach, for she suffered from knee pain and used a walker to move.
But, Wednesday was different. All that he did was help his mother board the vehicle and get down right in front of the coach. Mr. Ramesh was taking his mother to Chennai in the Blue Mountain Express.
Eighty-four-year-old N. Nanjundan, a Tamil scholar, too is happy at the service. But he wants the elevator to be operated so that the elderly commuters were spared of the trouble of climbing the stairs. “Climbing the steps to reach the platforms and access the battery car is more difficult than walking to reach the coach.”
R. Raveendran, Member, Divisional Railway Users Consultative Council, says that the job was only half done. Senior citizens and differently abled have got only 50 per cent of the benefit. Echoing Mr. Nanjundan’s words, he says that the real benefit will reach the commuters only when an easy access to the platforms is provided – by either elevator or escalator.
The battery car driver R. Saravanan says that on the first day he managed to ferry around 30 senior citizens. As many did not know such a service had been introduced he went around the Platforms 1 and 2 looking for elderly people. But accommodating their baggage was a problem. The senior citizens were forced to keep the bags on their laps.
Coimbatore Station Manager L. Chinnaraju said that one more battery car was on its way. The railway did not have any financial commitment in introducing the service. The car was operated by a private player, who also took care of the drivers’ salary. To meet the operational expenditure, the railway administration had allowed the private player to advertise on the vehicle to use it as a source of revenue.
It was a completely free service, he added.