Shortage of Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs) is not only leading to loss of revenue to the railways, but also in the TTEs behaving in a discourteous manner with passengers travelling in reserved compartments.
The TTEs of Tiruchi-Tirunelveli-Tiruchi Intercity Express trains have adopted a shortcut method of issuing extra fare tickets (EFTs) to avoid labour and save time. Instead of issuing EFT against each individual unreserved ticket for the passengers travelling in reserved compartments, they give EFT for a group of five or six unreserved ticket holders.
Whenever any passenger questions this practice, they often claim that they run short of the EFTs. But, they themselves prove their claim wrong as it is practised almost every day on this train.
However, some TTEs say that they would not find time to check tickets of all the passengers of the reserved compartments if they have to issue EFTs separately to every individual open-ticket holders.
They say filling up of details such as the date, train number, ticket number, names of railway stations, number of passengers and the amount of extra fare consumed more time. Besides, they would have to do more clerical work while submitting their daily accounts.
However, Senior Divisional Railway Manager Govindappa Raj said that TTEs were allowed to give EFTs in groups only when they run short of tickets.
“Otherwise, they have to issue EFTs against every unreserved ticket when the passengers travel in reserved coaches, especially when they demand it,” he said.
He also refuted the TTEs’ claim of shortage of manpower. “We have made the deployment in such a way that every train is adequately manned,” he said.
Recently, one of the woman TTEs of the Intercity Express openly displayed her anger against an old passenger. She was obviously irked as the male passenger sought EFT just minutes after she heaved a sigh of relief after having completed the task of distributing the tickets in groups against some 20 tickets.
“What were you doing all this time?” she shouted at him. When the man said that he had dozed off, the TTE said that she was not there to serve him alone but had to check tickets of hundreds of passengers in each coach. Even as the man stood silently, she asked him to leave the reserved coach and board the unreserved compartment at the next station. However, she later issued him a ticket with murmurs.
Meanwhile, when the train stopped at Sattur, another passenger boarded the coach. Displaying the unreserved ticket, he asked her whether he could travel in the reserved coach.
He wanted to travel beyond Madurai. The TTE told him that the coach was already full and the seats were completely reserved by passengers in Madurai and asked him to board the unreserved coach. The man had to leave.
Contrary to her claim, many seats in the coach were vacant and few passengers were seen sleeping on the seats.
After the TTE left the coach, another old passenger expressed his anguish over the young TTE’s attitude. Citing the reservation chart pasted on the compartment, he said that only six passengers had made their reservation in the entire coach.
“If the TTE had allowed him in the coach, he would have got a comfortable accommodation and the railway too would have got additional revenue,” he said.
Mr. Govindappa Raj said that TTEs who do not behave courteously with the passengers were counselled. When repeated complaints were received against an individual, he or she is sent for a refresher course on customer care to Tiruchi.
However, the divisional secretary of Southern Railway Mazdoor Union, J.M. Rafi, said that the railways should resume the practice of issuing coupons of various denominations instead of issuing the time-consuming extra-fare tickets.
He also said that at least 100 more TTEs should be posted in the division as so many new trains have been introduced in the recent years.