In the absence of TTE and RPF personnel, those with open tickets rule reserved coaches

Passengers travelling by day express trains have to bear the brunt of abuses from co-passengers who travel with unreserved travel ticket and occupy seats in reserved second seating coaches in trains bound south.

On October 5, in Tiruchi-bound Chennai-Tuticorin Link Express (16129), a passenger with a reserved ticket tried to evict an occupant seated in his seat which ultimately turned into a brawl. Later, co-passengers intervened and forced the occupant to give up his seat.

The travel ticket examiner (TTE) concerned did not bother to do his duty which emboldened those holding open tickets to bully those travelling with reserved tickets. When enquired, the railways said the TTE concerned could not make it that day. However, tickets of passengers travelling in sleeper class coaches and AC coaches were checked.

According to Shakthivel, a regular commuter from Madurai, in the recent past, incidents of TTEs not checking tickets in second seating had increased. The tendency of travellers holding unreserved tickets occupying the vacant seats in the reserved coaches was growing.

It is a free for all on most days in the second seating reserved coaches in day express trains. Neither the TTE nor the Railway Protection Force personnel are present to maintain order. The last-minute travellers and senior citizens prefer day express trains to night trains.

Speaking to The Hindu, a commercial wing official of Southern Railway, said there were certain shortcomings in managing the manpower in the department. Ticket checking wing was handicapped with staff shortage. However, efforts were on to recruit more TTEs.

“With new service being introduced every year and extra coaches added to existing trains, pressure on TTEs has risen considerably,” says a TTE in Tiruchi division.

A senior railway official in Tiruchi division speaking to The Hindu said generally one TTE was assigned for every two coaches. And priority was given to reserved coaches, including second seating.

The duty roster for TTEs was prepared a day in advance and coaches were never left unattended by a TTE. Any last minute delays by TTE were made-up with alternative arrangements.