Reacting to the Supreme Court’s suggestion of a reserving seats for an elite class, former chief of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), E Sreedharan junked the idea saying he didn’t believe in any one class receiving privileged treatment. The top court, while ruling to keep its ban on SUV and luxury diesel cars, suggested providing premium seats to those forfeiting the luxury of their cars to follow the current odd-even restriction on Delhi roads.
“I personally do not recommend any privileged treatment to any particular class of passengers except ladies,” Sreedharan, who is dubbed the Metro Man, told Hindustan Times in an email.
Pointing out the logistical difficulties in providing such a facility, Sreedharan added, “Metro trains are not like long distance trains. The average time a passenger spends in a metro train is only about 25 minutes. If separate accommodation is provided for an elite class, more facilities will have to be provided such as ‘only seated accommodation’. This would reduce the capacity of the train at the cost of ordinary passengers.”
DMRC officials said they would have to make infrastructural changes that, though not ‘impossible’, would be ‘very difficult’.
“Worldwide there is no practice of reserving certain coaches or part of a coach for elite travellers, who can be charged higher rates. The only exception, I know of is Dubai metro,” he said. The Dubai metro Gold class charges double the ticket price for a luxury coach.
DMRC sources, on the condition of anonymity, told HT that to facilitate such a reservation, entire passages in stations would have to be marked out from the entry gate to the ‘dedicated’ coach, and these tickets would cost more. Also, there is bound to be discontent and resistance from other passengers.
As for the train itself, it would difficult to separate the coaches. Making partitions inside the coaches is a violation of the evacuation policy of the DMRC as the train goes through tunnels and emergency gates are at the end of the train.
Currently, eight-coach trains are running at full capacity and the DMRC can’t increase the number of coaches. “If we take out coaches from existing infrastructure (to provide the facility), then we are depriving the common man from space,” the metro official said.