Many coaches being left unchecked
Nearly 300 coaches, effectively amounting to about 15 trains, mostly short-distance trains, leave Bangalore City Railway Station without travelling ticket examiners (TTEs).
While the sanctioned strength of TTEs in South Western Railway is 1,145, as many as 193 posts are vacant. The number of posts of TTEs has not increased in proportion to the increase in number of trains since 2005.
A senior SWR official admitted that the shortage of TTEs has led to many coaches being left unsupervised. In Bangalore Division, 96 posts out of the sanctioned 632 are vacant, said G.S. Kumar, retired Chief Ticketing Inspector and Secretary of Indian Railway Ticket Checking Staff Organisation, Bangalore Division. Over 90 trains, including 70 daily and about 21weekly services, depart from Bangalore City Railway Station every day. Assuming that three TTEs are deputed for one train that has 15 reserved coaches, they are able to check only six coaches, leaving the rest unchecked, Mr. Kumar said.
N. Ramesh, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, Bangalore, told The Hindu that the issue could be addressed by neighbouring Railway Divisions, whose shortage of TTEs was not as serious as Bangalore. “We are concentrating on long-distance trains. This has resulted in short-distance trains going unsupervised,” he said. He also said the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Government Railway Police (GRP) are deployed to conduct surprise checks.
Mr. Kumar, however, said RPF and GRP were not authorised to check tickets and they misuse this power often. At times, they allegedly harass passengers as well as TTEs on duty. Mr. Kumar argued that every reserved coach should have one TTE to enhance checking as well as to ensure safety of passengers. He said there should not be any compromise in the recruitment of loco pilots, train guards and TTEs on the ground of austerity measures. He said the TTEs were also facing the problem of non-grant of running allowance, though they perform the duty of running staff. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, the TTEs were given running allowance, he said.
Pradeep Kumar Saxena, General Manager, South Western Railway, said the Railway Board had sanctioned 120 additional posts of TTEs.