The Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad Garib Rath rumbled on to the platform at around 8 p.m on Saturday night. The rake appeared clean and fresh with the reservation chart pasted on the coaches. But the surprise turned to despair as the passengers who lined up at the chart on each coach found their names missing.

The passengers got ready to fight it out and went and occupied the seats based on the message received on their cell phones at the time of booking. As a few passengers lined up outside the coach looking for someone to clarify they found a railway employee pasting fresh reservation charts.

When a passenger asked him about his name missing in the list, the railway employee simply said: “check the date of journey”, pasted the new chart on top of the old one and walked away.

The confusion arose because the staff at the Railway Coaching Complex ‘cleaned’ the rake so well that the old reservation chart looked fresh.

Words fail to describe the super fast premium Duronto from Secunderabad to Visakhapatnam. One cannot really describe how a refurbished old coach looks or feels like. It may be recalled that 20 year-old coaches used for Rajdhani Express were given a vinyl wrapping for use on this train (The Hindu April, 24, 2012). Most passengers gloss over the discomfort of the bone-rattling journey since it somehow manages to reach the city, not necessarily the platform, on time.

There are some extras which the railways don’t charge you for, the rodents. Carrying food in your baggage is bound to get the biting attention of the permanent fixture in the old carriage. The Superfast Premium trains chugs in to the city and then the harrowing wait for allocation of platform begins.

Maybe a complaint to the consumer forum on the ‘deficiency in service’ will draw the attention of the Railways and make them think like a service provider and not a ‘Sarkari department’ that lives for itself.

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