Railway unions protest move to hand over the computerised passenger reservation system to postal staff

Madurai Railway Division has planned to hand over computerised passenger reservation system (PRS) at Tallakulam to the postal department. While the administration maintains that no existing facility will be denied to passengers, railway employees’ unions are wary of the move.

This facility, functioning for 17 years, has been catering to around 400 passengers, especially those living on the northern parts of the city, every day.

“This saved a lot of time, travel and fuel for the people living on the northern side of the Vaigai, who would have to go all the way to Madurai railway junction otherwise,” one of the enquiry-cum-reservation clerks (ECRC) said.

Southern Railway Mazdoor Union divisional secretary J.M. Rafi said the union members would launch a strike if the plan was implemented.

Dakshin Railway Employees’ Union divisional secretary R. Sankaranarayan said the railway administration had not paid rent for the reservation office to the Department of Posts for the last few months with an intention to close it down.

Divisional Railway Manager A.K. Rastogi denied the allegations.

“We are only handing over the PRS to Department of Posts and not closing it down. Instead of railway ECRCs, postal employees will handle reservation work,” he said.

The ECRCs claimed that many government offices located on the northern side were making use of the Tallakulam PRS.

“Only railway authorities are empowered to issue tickets against government warrants. Besides, the passengers will not get telescopic benefit in fares while making journey by more than one train, if the postal employees operate it,” a clerk said.

Benefits to remain

However, the DRM said the passengers would continue to get all the benefits. The commission the postal department would get would be borne by the railways and not passed on to the passengers, he said.

The demand for additional PRS counters at the eastern and western entries of Madurai junction had gone up. “Passengers are waiting for 20 to 30 minutes in queues to get tickets, as we are not able to operate all the eight counters at the eastern entry. By re-deploying the six railway employees now posted at the Tallakulam PRS, we will be able to cut down on the waiting time to 15 minutes,” Mr.Rastogi said, adding these things would be explained to the railway employees.

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