Four days after the authorities had sought to bring about changes in the ticket booking process by ruling that queuing passengers would be issued token numbers, confusion and chaos has gripped the booking counters.
Several long-distance train passengers are unaware of the workings of the system, as the railways have no publicity has been given to the initiative yet. But, what has irked passengers the most is the lack of professional approach by the railways in implementing the system. Only two railway officers have been assigned the daily task of manually numbering the reservation application forms for nearly 600 passengers that come to buy tickets.
Moreover, the Tatkal ticket seekers, who stand in the queue along with regular travellers, are not able to get tickets due to non-availability of special counter and queue. Complaints of not receiving the token numbers are growing by the day and at times several heated exchanges have also been witnessed among passengers.
As there is no specific system for distributing the tokens, passengers who step out of the queue for a few minutes are left in the lurch, as they miss out on receiving the token.
“I can’t even go to respond nature’s call,” said Deepak Deshmukh, who queued up since 5 am yesterday, but missed the chance to avail of the token because he was away for five minutes. “How could I know that tokens are being given? The clerk later marked my reservation form with number 57, even though my position in the line was 15.”
Sumit Sawant, who had left the queue to photocopy an ID proof, said, “It is absurd. I was under impression that we would get a token numbers similar to the ones we receive at a bank. But, when I returned, I was told that the tokens were already given, and I would have to make do with the number I was assigned. The intimation of the rule is displayed on a small board. The railway authorities should make special announcements regarding the same.”
Harsha Shah, president, Railway Pravasi Group, said, “There is a total mismanagement in the token system, as it is impossible for two railway officials to manually assign numbers to each and every passenger.
The enforcement of the Tatkal service and its newly introduced rules are confusing and creates many problems for passengers. Authorities need to bifurcate Tatkal passengers from general reservation passengers by asking them to queue up separately.
The tokens given to both should be colour-coded so that the booking clerk identifies it. Railway officers should also make a formal announcement half-an-hour before they assign the token numbers.”
The other side
R P Pande, chief reservation superintendent, Pune Railway, said, “The token system has minimised the problems to a certain extent, though it is not foolproof. We are simply adhering to the order that has come from the Railway Board. We can’t provide tokens to the passengers who step out to answer nature’s call or to get a photocopy. To help ease the upheaval, we can make an announcement prior to the giving of the token so that passengers don’t leave their place in the line.”
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