As summer rush continues, issue of tickets at four out of eight counters prompts serpentine queues; many fail to board trains

Come summer. It is rush time in trains originating and passing via Tiruchi. The Tiruchi junction has been brimming with the travelling public for the past two months and various organisations have pleaded for more facilities for the benefit of the travellers.

Due to its strategic location, Tiruchi junction always wears a crowded look round the clock. And during summer and other festival season, the crowd becomes unmanageable. Umpteen numbers of trains to both northern and southern ends of the state and also to various destinations in North India are operated via Tiruchi on a regular basis in addition to the summer specials.

With the introduction of the e-ticketing facility, crowding in the computerised passenger reservation system (PRS) centre near the junction has come down to a considerable extent. However, the counters issuing current tickets wears a crowded look for most of the day. During peak hours long queues could be seen and many miss the train unable to collect the tickets at the eleventh hour.

The lone current ticket issuing counter at the Kallukkuzhi entrance for a major part of the day used to wear a deserted look. However, of late long queue is also seen at this counter during the peak hours, particularly in the early morning hours.

About a dozen trains, both express and passenger services, arrive, depart and pass via Tiruchi between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. The list includes Pallavan express; Chennai- Mangalore express; Mysore – Mayiladuthurai express; Kumbakonam-bound Rockfort express; Ernakulam – Nagore express; Chennai –Rameswaram express; bi-weekly Chennai – Madurai express; bi-weekly Tirupathi – Madurai express; Nagore passenger; Rameswaram passenger; Erode passenger and Madurai – Villuppuram passenger.

The long queues in front of the unreserved ticket counters should be seen to be believed, particularly between 5.30 a.m. and 7 a.m. The presence of a large number of people for getting the platform tickets further aggravates the problem. Three platform ticket vending machines were installed at the main entrance and all the three have vanished now. This has forced people who come to receive and see of their relatives, to vie with the travelling public to collect the platform tickets.

Many a time the passengers miss the trains as they are unable to get unreserved tickets in counters due to heavy crowd. “I travel to Rameswaram by the Tiruchi – Rameshwaram passenger which leaves Tiruchi junction at 6.15 a.m. In the last one month, I could not collect the ticket twice due to long queue in the counter at Kallukuzhi entrance and I procured the ticket in the Kumaramangalam station”, says P. Vinod of Pudukottai road.

The Railways should come forward to re-install the platform ticket vending machines with immediate effect, Mr. Vinod says and adds that it should also take steps for keeping all the eight current ticket issuing counters at the main entrance and two counters at the Kallukuzhi entrance open during the whole summer months.

There were two Passenger Operated Enquiry Terminals (POET) each at the PRS and the main entrance. While the two at main entrance are missing, only one is available at PRS. Even this too remains faulty on many days. The touch screen facility at the Kallukuzhi entrance too remains out of order on many days, lament Tiruchiites. “Tiruchi is a Railway divisional headquarters. The officials should conduct special check regularly to monitor the proper functioning of the already installed facilities”, observed A. Thomas of Deccan Consumer Council.