Friday, October 19, 2012

Tryst with Indian Railways....

by D.Dhanuraj

Couple of months ago, I had applied for Shubh Yatra card issued by Indian railways. Within a few days, the card was delivered at my office. Then I realized that I should be a frequent 2 tier (at least) passenger to make use of the benefits offered by the card. But I am happy with one aspect of the Shubh Yatra card which is nothing but, I don’t have to take platform tickets any more, while I am card member. 

These days, I have travelled extensively in Indian Railways and many times I could reserve tickets using online Tatkal system thanks to some changes in the rules in the game.

Yesterday, I wanted to book online another Tatkal ticket between Trichy and Ernakulam. I waited for an hour before I could realize that IRCTC server is down. It happens so most of those precious times for an online  tatkal booking passenger. 

Since I was staying very near to Chennai Central Station (irctc code: MAS), I thought of walk into the reservation counter before the Tatkal quota gets over. I was walking to railway counter to reserve Tatkal tickets after many years (I suspect the last one was in 2009). So I was timid and tensed in my approach. As usual, almost all the counters (I believe there are 25 counters) at MAS had long queues. I joined one of those to test my luck this time. Then I noticed that every counter has exhibited timings for Tatkal booking as 10 am to 11 am. “What does it mean?” I asked my fellow ticket seeker.  He said there would have been separate queues for Tatkal booking between 10 am and 11 am. Another person remarked that after 11 am, there would not be any Tatkal Booking. “How can it be?” I asked myself though I did not share it with others. After 15 to 20 minutes, it was my turn to reserve my ticket. I handed over the filled up form to the officer at the desk.  I was so happy to hear him that tickets were still available in Tatkal quota. But in the very next moment, I was thrown into a deep well, when he asked me for a photo copy of the ID card I am carrying. I pleaded with him showing my original ID card (my driving license) which carries my photograph also. He said without a photo copy, he could not issue the ticket.  I did not have the choice to argue on this account so I had to leave the counter. He asked me to get a photocopy of the ID card so that he could issue the ticket. 

I am sure that those who are frequent to MAS can imagine where are those photocopy shops!! They are across the street on busy Poonamallee high road. Rushing out of the MAS building, I gave up my interest to take Tatkal ticket as I was not sure whether I should stand in a queue again to approach the ticket counter. Later, I tried it again online… This time I was lucky and I got it.. I think the particular route between Trichy and Ernakulam is not so busy these days… But the questions remain answered for me;

1.       What is the point for asking a photocopy of the ID when the original ID is presented and the holder himself is present at the counter?

2.       Does it mean that Railways cross check thousands of Tatkal tickets issued everyday against the photocopy? Even if they do, how do they ensure that they are not bogus?

3.       While Indian Railways insists on reducing the paper print, why do they insist on a photocopy?

4.       If this is the case, the TTE should also ask for photocopy. Otherwise, how does he ensure the passenger is genuine?

5.       There was no information exhibited on this regard at the counter!! Why can’t they do it so that I would have taken a photocopy as an obliging citizen..

I feel sorry for the fellow passengers who do not have access to internet and smartphones. They would have terrible times with these kinds of unsavory policies.
 I am yet to understand the intent of this policy? What do they want to achieve? If you know, please email me or comment below…

I thought my bad experience with Railways is over. But no…. Last night, I had to board the train from Egmore to Trichy at 10.30 pm. The train was supposed to start at 10.30 pm from Chennai Egmore Station (MS). The train came to the platform only by 10.40 pm which surprised everyone as it was the station of origin. Then we had another shock waiting for us. My ticket was in 3 tier (B2). There was no B2 compartment (“we could not  find it”, that is the better expression) but only an extra sleeper class (SL) compartment. All the passengers boarded that SL coach which was in the position of B2. Later we are informed that there are changes in the berth numbers.. in the middle of night TTE woke me up and gave the refund chellan… He explained that both B1 and B2 had malfunctions so that there were no other choice but to replace them with SL.
Today afternoon, I went to Trichy station to know more about the refund rules. I was more curious about the procedures than the refund money. As I expected I had to move from counter to counter and from officer to officer. At the end, I was directed to Claims and Refund session in Divisional Manager’s office. Since mine was an e-ticket, I was asked to take print out and send it to Claims officer sitting in Southern Railway office in Chennai by post. I was wondering the cost involved including the time and resources in all these processes. Who is bothered? Anyway, I will try this out as I am curious to know how the system works…

While coming out of the claims office, I noticed a Malayali couple sharing their grievances to a police officer. Hearing them, I approached them. They were on the way to VELANKANNI from KOLLAM in Kerala. On the way, they were pick pocketed. I gave them some money.  Receiving the money, they told me that they would pray for me in the church tomorrow. They have strong belief in The Mother of  Velankanny.

I wish they (in fact, all of us) pray to The Mother to improve the Indian Railway System……………….


Ayshwarya Singh said...

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Debosmita Roy said...

Thanks for discussing about yatra through Indian Railways. I would like to add about IRCTC login,which is very easy and can be used for ticket booking , Indian Railway ticket print, cancellation and much more. It saves time.