Mangalore Central Railway Station in the morning is teeming with young students emerging from trains coming from Kerala.
Some students told The Hindu that travelling by train to Mangalore every day is a mixed bag. Many agreed with what Dr. Vasudevan, Chief Medical Officer, Kottakal Aryavaidya Sala, who has been travelling for more than the past one year to Mangalore from Kanhangad when he said the train was always packed to capacity.
Sometimes, the police have to be called as drunkards enter the train and pick quarrels. Some people smoke in the toilet, which is unsafe for everybody in the train, he said.
Navneet, MBA student in Mangalore, has been commuting for five years between Kasaragod and Mangalore.
According to him, the train does get overcrowded and students are forced to hang from the doors. “It is not for fun. There is no space,” he said.
He said that cases of quarrels with drunken people in the train have become “rare” in the last three months, ever since the police presence in the trains started.
The problem of drunkards, who are sometimes daily wage earners, and takes place only in the evening trains. There could be 30 cases of drunken people in the evening train (which leaves Mangalore at 4.30 pm). “They start commenting on others, especially girls, whose classmates protest and quarrels start,” he said. While degree students make the bulk of the travellers, the post graduates are very few. Pre-university students travel in relatively high numbers but ask for help when they are harassed by drunken elements.
“PU, they won't speak, they will tell their seniors or degree students, who will intervene,” he said.
“Smoking goes on in the toilets but no one has complained though they the complain about drunken elements,” said Rohith, one of about 20 BBM students at SDM Law College, who travel every day to the city.
No one cares about the notice that says they will be fined for smoking inside the toilets, he said.
Yet another problem that students face in trains first two to three months during the new academic session is that of ragging. While there is no ragging in the morning trains because of police (who are in mufti), it does happen in the evening trains, when there is no police in mufti. Freshers alone in a compartment with seniors are ragged. While they know it is best to travel in groups, the seniors will get the fresher anyway if they want to rag him or her, he said.
He has been taking a train from Kasaragod to Mangalore for five years and said train travel was good and bad. Trains cost less and are more reliable and faster than buses reaching Mangalore from Kasaragod in 50 minutes.
Another problem that existed earlier but not any more is that of trains having to wait before Nethravathi river when there was a single bridge.
Now with two bridges, there is no need for trains to wait. The trains travel and reach on time.
On track, on foot
Navneet said that students take a short cut to their college from the Mangalore Central Railway Station to save time. They walk by the railway track to Srinivas College, Pandeshwar, as it takes them five minutes versus 10 minutes by road in an autorickshaw. He said there are no trains coming on that route except goods train, which move at night or in the afternoon but not in the morning. “They (students) ask engine drivers and there are no passenger trains; so it is no problem,” he said.
Navneet says the number of students is increasing each succeeding year especially as Plus 2 students from Kerala also come to Mangalore while earlier it was only degree students, he said.