Students 'fed up' of railway mismanagement

78 management students and 3 faculty members of DY Patil University claim they were overcharged on board Swaraj Express for their lunch plates that were lacking several items

A recreational-cum-study tour threatened to turn into a wreck in the last lap for 78 management students (50 males, 28 females) and three faculty members of DY Patil University, Navi Mumbai. On Wednesday, the group that was returning home after spending 5 days and 4 nights at the Jim Corbett national park had a rude experience while travelling in Swaraj Express (Jammu-Bandra). They were allegedly overcharged for their lunch plates from which many items were missing.

Hard to digest: Members of the group from DY Patil University that
complained of poor service and overcharging by the pantry staff
on-board Swaraj Express. Pic/Mahesh Chafe

Anurag Shrivastava, professor at Department of Management, DY Patil University, who was part of the trip, told MiD DAY, "We had boarded the train from Delhi on Tuesday evening. Around 11.30 am on Wednesday, the students who had reserved seats in coach S-1 ordered for lunch. Soon after the train left Vadodara around 1.30 pm, food was served."

"The students found that lunch was overvalued with a plate of Rs 42 being handed out for Rs 62. Moreover, the pantry staff did not provide us with salad, water and curd along with the food. When we quizzed them about this, the staff accepted that they did not have these items on board," said assistant professor A Vivek of the university.

Anirudh Madan, a first-year student, said, "Despite claiming that they didn't have curd on-board, the pantry staff were seen selling it separately for Rs 15 a cup." In his defence, Ramesh Kumar, the pantry manager of Swaraj Express, said, "The 22 students who ordered lunch have not paid us. However, we refunded each passenger Rs 10 per plate after the students raised a hue and cry, accusing us of overcharging commuters."

Prakash Upadhyaya, the second pantry manager, said, "Since the students ordered for la carte menu, we charged them Rs 59 accordingly. This included a paratha, a vegetable, dal, rice, papad, pickle and a plastic spoon. Salad and curd are not given as accompaniments with a lunch plate."

He added, "As for the accusations made by the students, our hawkers were selling lassi and not curd for Rs 20. In addition to our hawkers, there are independent ones too who sell these items on the train. However, due to hot weather, water consumption on board is relatively higher than normal, and hence we could not provide a few passengers with water along with their lunch plates."

Shrivastava rubbished these claims, stating that all the students had paid the charges to the pantry staff, who had come to collect the money."We have already made our dissatisfaction known in the pantry manager's complaint book and have also taken a note from them in writing, as proof for our record. An official complaint with Railway Board and concerned officials will be made shortly, with evidence," said Shrivastava.

Laying a trip
Sunil Surte, the registrar at the management department of the university, said, "If such a thing has happened in the train, students are correct to raise their concern about such wrongdoings."

Railways speak
Speaking to MiD DAY, a senior official from Western Railway said, "This is not the first time we have received complaints about Swaraj Express pantry overcharging commuters for food items. The complaints we received in the past have been sent to our headquarters (commercial) to forward to Northern Railway, as the train and pantry is under them, asking them to take appropriate action against the pantry manager and others involved."
The officer added, "The commuters should have put their complaint in writing in the complaint book, which is available with both the pantry manager and ticket checker on board. Also, it is mandatory under the catering policy that the pantries display rate cards, but that is seldom the case." When contacted, a Western Railway spokesperson said, "The complaints received will be thoroughly looked into and in case any discrepancies are discovered, necessary action would be taken against those guilty."

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