With counters shut, passengers are left groping in the dark

On Friday evening, when the power went out, passengers bound for Chennai and Bangalore were staring at closed ticket counters here at Nagapattinam railway station. These were passengers waiting to board the trains to Chennai and Bangalore scheduled for 9.40 p.m.

Passengers — children and women — grappling in the dark, were informed that the generators of the station were out of order and therefore the counters were shut.

“I was to take the train to Chennai with my family. But the counter was shut and they suggested I board unreserved with my wife and two children,” Kalidas, a passenger, told The Hindu.

The counter was finally opened at quarter past nine, when the power returned, leaving passengers with very few minutes for the train’s arrival.

The railway station, equipped with a larger capacity generator for the station and a minor one for the ticket counters, had remained dysfunctional for 10 days, a station source told The Hindu. With the rise in the number of hours of power shutdown in the past fortnight, the uninterrupted power supply system exclusively for the ticket counters had not been recharged.

The higher capacity generator lighted up the platforms, the waiting room, station master’s room, and booking office.

With no generator, the station is in the dark, said a railway station source.

Source of headache

For the railway police outpost at the station, the abandoned erstwhile accounts office building is a source of headache.

The station with no compound wall and broken fencing is like a thoroughfare used by schoolchildren right when the train arrives, says an RPF personnel.

“The abandoned building should be demolished as it poses serious safety threat to the students who pass by. The blackouts increase our safety concerns,” says the RPF source. The railway station at the district headquarters is found wanting on other counts, says Aravind Kumar, Vice-President, Tamil Nadu Consumer Protection Council.

No coach display boards

With the increase in rail services, the absence of coach position display boards is a grievance for consumers.

There are three trains — Velankanni-Chennai, Karaikal-Chennai (Kamban Express), and Bangalore-Chennai — that arrive at night. None of the three platforms have a coach position display board. Kamban Express has 22 coaches and passengers have to run the length of the platform lugging their baggage clueless, says Aravind Kumar.

Temporary coaching indication boards were placed briefly for the Velankanni festival.

Sanitation problem

Sanitation has been another gnawing concern for the passengers here.

The newly built toilet has been tendered away on a temporary contract.

“After the sanitation workers finish their morning schedule, the toilets are locked up.

Passengers waiting to board the afternoon service at 1 p.m. have no recourse,” says Mr. Aravind Kumar.

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