Syed Muthahar Saqaf

Long queues are a regular sight at the three counters which issue unreserved tickets

TIRUCHI: The historic Tiruchi Railway Junction has been given a facelift with facilities such as air-conditioned pay and use waiting hall, ultra-modern waiting hall for upper class passengers, provision of purified drinking water in all platforms by setting up an exclusive reverse-osmosis plant, additional seating arrangements and new car parking area.

The entire old station building has been given a fresh coat of paint and fitted with neon lights and the approach and exit roads have been widened.

Notwithstanding all these measures aimed at improving amenities, passengers complain that the Railways had failed to take note of the non-availability of certain basic facilities at the major station in the Southern Railway.

Long queues are a regular sight during peak hours at the three counters which issue unreserved tickets. On many an occasion, the passengers have to wait for about 25 to 30 minutes to get a ticket.

Three platform ticket vending machines installed by the nationalised banks were available earlier – one at the VIP entrance and two at the booking office entrance. While the machine at the VIP entrance has been removed to facilitate the renovation, the other two machines are out of order. This has caused huge crowds at the unreserved counters.

The crowds are heavy between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., between 12 noon and 2 p.m. and in the late evening hours when many trains arrive and depart .

“I stood in the queue for about 25 minutes for a platform ticket. I was lucky enough to see off my friend proceeding to Chennai by Pallavan Express. Behind me there were a lot of people waiting to get the platform and unreserved tickets for Chennai. Many of them might have missed the train”, says M. Senthil Kumar, a self-employed youth. Of the eight counters at the booking office, only four (including one for the physically challenged) are functioning. It is here that the travellers feel the need to open dedicated counters for platform tickets during peak hours. A manual counter to issue unreserved tickets and platform tickets is functioning at the Kallukuzhi entrance which remains deserted all through the day.

People entering the Junction from the main entrance could very well collect the ticket from this counter by using the subway. But they run the risk of being caught by the checking staff. The people have been for a long time demanding introduction of reservation tickets counter at Kallukuzhi. A one-rupee coin dispenserinstalled by a bank for purchasing the platform tickets from the vending machines at the booking office is missing. People run from pillar to post to collect loose change. The passengers have also demanded adequate seating facility and installation of fans on platforms 2–5, along with passenger operated enquiry terminals.