Railways’ reluctance to lift curbs puts passengers in trouble

Non-issue of season tickets, limited passenger services and maximum booking of 12 a month, woes continue for a large section of passengers who depend on Railways for cheap and fast travel even as the State is all set to enter the last stage of unlock.

With more than 90% of the offices resuming regular work, Railways’ reluctance to address the issues are causing hardships to commuters. “Despite repeated appeals, the authorities have done nothing to ease the restrictions. We have submitted memorandums to all MPs and we are planning to launch a mass signature campaign coordinating with offices across Kerala,” says J. Liyons, secretary, Friends on Rails, a collective of daily passengers.

Unscientific timing

Mr. Liyons adds that though a couple of MEMU services were restored with season ticket facility, the timing is totally unscientific and very few passengers benefit from it. “Apart from private and government employees, a lot of people from unorganised sector take daily trips. It is not practical for them to take MEMU services that are operated during odd hours.”

Sajeev Parisavila, president, Southern Railway Passengers Association, says passengers are forced to shell out extra money in the absence of season tickets. “A lot of people from lower income groups travel using season tickets. Many of them had to take pay cuts during the pandemic and now instead of ₹300, they have to spend more than ₹3,000 for travel. Without issuing season tickets and restoring all services, they will not be able to survive,” he says.

Booking issues

While some passengers, especially a section of senior citizens, are not acquainted with the online booking system, technical issues also pose a challenge. Both Eranad Express and Parasuram Express start from Mangalapuram, but reserving tickets for Parasuram from some stations is a task. “Those travelling via Kottayam are not able to book tickets in Sabari, Kerala and Parasuram. The only option for them is Venad Express that arrives in Thiruvananthapuram around 11 p.m.,” says Mr. Liyons.

Since reservation is a pre-requisite for travel, passengers have to reach much early and queue up in front of counters. “If you have an IRCTC account linked to Aadhaar card, you can book six round trips a month and for others it is just three. The volume of daily passengers is very huge and they require tickets for over 20 days a month. With the restoration of Saturdays as working days, the situation has become very difficult. When schools and colleges reopen, it will be a nightmare,” says S. Amal, who works at a private firm in Ernakulam.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 8:44:09 PM |

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