Rail Passenger Amenities Panel Visit a Farce
The visit of the Railway Passengers Amenities Committee to the railway stations in Ernakulam on Friday turned out to be a farce, with the members failing to make any important recommendation or even communicating with the passengers at the station.
According to sources, the Committee headed by Chairman Chalady T Narayanaswamy spent hardly a few minutes at the stations and only made a show of visiting the stalls, booking counters and the waiting halls. The three-member team visited the Ernakulam Junction station and Ernakulam Town station. The only recommendation made by them was to ensure that a register be maintained at the upper class waiting room to ensure that only first class and sleeper ticket holders enjoy the privilege.
The Committee is on a tour to major stations across the country as part of a check up. Chairman Narayanaswamy had made important announcements at the Chennai railway station such as recommending a cess on passengers to maintain stations and trains in case of fund shortage.
At the Coimbatore railway station, the construction of a new terminal for the Kovai station was announced.
Ernakulam Area Manager P L Ashok Kumar said that the committee comprising two other members - Sathyanand Chatterjee and Reddy had arrived on Friday morning. However, he affirmed that no talks were held with the passengers regarding the basic amenities at the station.
Speaking on the visit, members of the Southern Railways Mazdoor Union (SRMU) said that it is the responsibility of the committees to study the issues plaguing passengers at the stations. “Several committees, including Parliamentary Consultative Committees, just make a show of visiting the stations at least twice a year. However, these are planned leisure trips tipped to waste the railways money. No positive recommendations have been made by the committees so far,” he said.
The previous visit by the Consultative Committee had drawn flak from various sources who cited that the main agenda of the committee was a visit to Munnar.
Though a five-member committee had arrived at the Thiruvananthapuram railway station, only three visited Ernakulam.
According to general secretary of the All-Kerala Railway Passengers’ Association Mathew Paul, they are never intimated about such committee meets.
The committee constituted by the Railway Ministry has been given the power to conduct regular checks to ensure proper implementation of passenger comfort.
They have to look into the general cleanliness and environmental condition, drinking water facilities and dissemination of information to the passengers, like enquiry offices, public address system, indicator boards. Also, it is the responsibility of the committees to ensure that provision of lights, fans and other electrical amenities are satisfactory at the railway stations.
Provision and maintenance of public lavatories, bathrooms, retiring rooms and waiting halls, security of passengers in carriages and at station premises and ensuring courtesy to passengers are some of the other responsibility.