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Don't judge your train from platform at Tiruchi junction

Syed Muthahar Saqaf
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Decision to choose the wrong express in confusion from the two on the same platform cost passenger's life

long wait: Passengers queuing up before the unreserved ticket counters at the Tiruchi Junction. file PHOTO.
long wait: Passengers queuing up before the unreserved ticket counters at the Tiruchi Junction. file PHOTO.

Fifty-year old Fakhruddin of K. K. Nagar in the city, travelling to Rameswaram, happily boarded the train on platform number 5 in Tiruchi junction on March 24 morning, without knowing that a tragedy was awaiting him in the next few minutes.

When the train started moving in the opposite direction, he grew suspicious. Only upon being informed by co-passengers, did Fakhruddin come to realise that he had actually boarded the Tiruchi – Nagore passenger train, instead of the Rameswaram passenger.

Feeling anxious, he hurriedly rose up from the seat and jumped out of the moving train and fell down on the track. He sustained grievous injuries and succumbed on way to hospital.

It was the presence of two passenger trains on the same platform in Tiruchi junction at that time on that day, that claimed the life of a passenger. The departure time of Nagore passenger is 6.10 a.m. and the Rameswaram passenger is 6.15 a.m.

Even on many days, the Tiruchi – Mayiladuthurai passenger, which leaves at 6.05 p.m. and the Tiruchi – Dindigul passenger which leaves at 6.20 p.m., depart from the same platform from Tiruchi junction.

What has surprised the travelling public is that Tiruchi is a major junction and at present accounts for five platforms. There was no need for taking trains departing at the same time on a single platform, when at those times other platforms remain free, say a cross section of commuters.

The boards displaying the train timings and the platforms numbers, mention the same platform number for two trains. The officials too guide the passengers, who make enquiries, to proceed to platform No. 5 for boarding the Rameswaram and the Nagore passenger. This leads to confusion among the commuters.

Many feel that two trains proceeding to opposite directions should not be on the same platform. If at all, by compulsion two trains are forced to be drawn on the same platform, display boards should be kept at vantage points mainly in the sub-way leading to the platform. Staff should also be posted on the exit and entrance of the sub-way, says M. J. John Sylvester, Goldenrock zone president of the Congress.

The work of conversion and upgradation of platforms 6 and 7, which is in progress should be speeded up, Mr. Sylvester adds. The completion of these works will solve the problem of paucity of platforms.

What adds to the panic of the passengers all through the day is the non-availability of adequate counters for issuing unreserved tickets, argues S. Pushpavanam, Secretary, Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu.

Long queues of people could be seen at the unreserved ticket issuing counters at the main entrance, including those for getting platform tickets, particularly in the morning hours when many trains arrive and depart. The Railways should open more counters for issuing unreserved tickets, pleads Mr. Pushpavanam. Such tragedies take place only when there is delay in collecting tickets due to heavy rush, he adds.

Previously three platform ticket vending machines were installed, along with a coins exchange machine, at the main entrance and they were of immense help to the people in getting platform tickets, without going to the counters. All of a sudden, all the machines vanished one fine morning and demands to reinstall them have fallen only in deaf ears. When even many small stations possess platform ticket vending machines, the absence of the same at a major junction is totally unjustified, according to John Saral, headmistress, Panchayat Union Middle School, Keelamullakudi.

Mr. Pushpavanam complains that the display of the name board of the train only on three or four compartments adds to their woes.

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