KOCHI: The railway commuters in the state have always been a neglected lot. They have to make do with whatever meager facilities that the Railways provide them despite the huge amount that they cough up as fares. The latest decision barring commuters with de-reserved tickets from travelling in reserved sleeper-class coaches of Express and Superfast trains has put the public in a catch-22 situation.
The office bearers of All Kerala Passenger Users Association said that railways argue that they have taken this decision to stop the practice of short-distance commuters with dereserved tickets from travelling in sleeper coaches. The Railways has instructed short distance travellers to buy a sleeper ticket for a minimum chargeable distance of 200 km, if they want to travel in sleeper coaches.
According to Nujum J N, who travels every day from Kochi to Alappuzha, it is a totally anti-people decision taken by the Railways.
“I will have to pay Rs 120 extra, if I want to travel in sleeper coach till Alappuzha. How can they justify the decision? They say that it is for the benefit of the long distance passengers that such a decision was taken. But long distance travellers sleep mainly in the night time. And after 6 pm, unreserved passengers are not allowed in sleeper coaches,” said Nujum.
Railways has also named nine trains with deserved section and coaches for the benefit of short-distance commuters. “The Railway authorities said that they will allow people to travel in nominated de-reserved sleeper-class coaches kept unreserved for a particular section for short-distance daytime travellers on payment of charges for the distance travelled. But in effect, all it does is to add an extra financial burden on short-distance travellers,” he added.
The office bearers of the association expressed their strong dissent against the Railways decision and said that this will force the passengers to travel in the jam packed general compartments, which actually is very much similar to a trip to hell. This is a pure violation of human rights.
They also said that most of the sleeper coaches are empty after Ernakulam. Such coaches should also be included in the de-reserved list, they added.
Meanwhile, the officials of the Railways said that the decision was taken after being plagued by complaints from passengers who travel to long-distances in sleeper-class reserved coaches.