The insufficient number of ticket-booking counters is just another of the many shortfalls plaguing the Ernakulam Junction Railway Station.
Passengers awaiting their turn to book tickets here have to reckon with serpentine queues during peak hours.
The Railways’ proposal to relocate the six booking counters to a wider area and to augment their number has not yet materialised. Thus, during peak hours, over 100 passengers wait in a congested area with ventilation only on one side.
Repeated requests from passengers and staff for more counters have not been heeded. The staff members have put up posters demanding more counters at the station’s main entry and spoken of their workload that takes a toll on their health. They work in two shifts – 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. plus night shift for one group, and a 10-hour shift from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the second.
As for passengers’ woes, there are many who land up late at the station and try to jump the queue, worsening the chaos. The situation is a little better at the station’s eastern entry, though only one of the two counters functions during off-peak hours.
A senior official in the booking wing, however, said that the rush near ticket counters has reduced after two counters were opened at the eastern entry. “The opening of eight Jansadharan ticket counters at different places in the city and suburbs too has helped,” he said.
The Ernakulam Area Manager of Southern Railway, P.L. Ashok Kumar, said passengers could better utilise the two ticket-vending machines at the station’s entrance, so that the queue at the counters can be reduced. “Only about 100 people use the machines each day, as compared to over 500 in Aluva and over 1,000 in Thiruvananthapuram.”
The Railways has posted two retired employees near the machines. People who possess a smart card can swipe it and the fare will be deducted based on the options they make on the touch screen. Those who do not possess a card can pay the fare to any employee, who will in turn swipe his card, Mr. Ashok Kumar said.
There are also complaints that online reservation is extremely slow and users often encounter problems in operating it. The allegation is rife that travel agents and others are making undue profits, because of the lacunae in the railway-reservation and booking systems.
The Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Agarwal recently said after a visit to the Kudumbasree railway ticket counter in Kakkanad that plans are afoot to increase the number of Jansadharan ticket counters. This is in keeping with the policy of reducing the time spent in front of booking counters.