Southern Railways day trains..

June 7, 2006

THIS IS A RANT. So anyone looking for happy or funny stuff…skip.

When I book on a night train, I am given a choice of berths, or at least told whether I have got an upper, a middle or lower berth.

So why, when I book on a day train (eg. Lalbagh Exp or Brindavan Exp), can’t I be told if I am getting an aisle, middle or window seat, and if I have booked sufficiently early, get my preference?

When I wrote to Southern Railways about this, I got a letter saying that this was impossible because they run X no. of trains every day. This has got to be the crapola-est answer I have ever received from anyone. What has the number of trains being run got to do with anything?

On EVERY trip I make on the day train, I find that elderly passengers who want to be near the door have been stuffed into the middle where they have to shuffle back and forth on the aisle. Youngsters who want to settle in the centre of the coach and go to sleep are put near the doors where the traffic is heavy and disturbing. People with huge luggage don’t know where to put them. (That’s another rant. Why can’t day trains have a lockable luggage car, charging for large pieces of luggage, that the passengers can check in at the beginning of the journey and collect at the end? That would save us from these pyramids in the aisles or heavy luggage falling on us -it has happened to me– from the overhead rack.)

Couples are put into the 3-seat configration and groups are split into (at least) two factions, struggling to come together. And of course, to top it all, there are always passengers who have Coach C-2 seat no.22 and who blithely occupy C-1 seat 22. And today we found that there were NO seat numbers written on the logical place(the walls of the coach above the windows)…they were written on top of the seats, some of the numbers were missing, and even a casual hand of a passenger could hide them from someone looking for them.

The musical chairs that ensued on this morning’s trip from Bangalore to Chennai kept at least 20 of us occupied up to Bangarpet. At one point it got SO ridiculous that all of us actually burst out laughing, and the tension got dispersed…lovely thing to happen, of course, but why should the situation occur at all so regularly?

WHEN are the Railways going to get better design into their ticketing systems?