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Berth rights

The railway minister may be promising to upgrade wait-listed passengers. But can he first look into the fate of passengers who have confirmed tickets.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2006 01:35 IST

The railway minister may be promising to upgrade wait-listed passengers. But can he first look into the fate of passengers who have confirmed tickets but find themselves shuttled from one berth to another? And this happened on what we see as our national pride, the Rajdhani Express.

I was settled on my berth in the improved version of the August Kranti Mumbai Rajdhani Express, when a troubled gentleman sat down next to me. I realised that this man, Krupesh Shah, hadn’t been allotted a seat and was waiting for the TTE. When the TTE, KR Shukla, arrived, it came to light that Shah had a confirmed ticket (PNR No. 8200695185) from Valsad to Hazrat Nizamuddin, though he’d boarded from Vadodara. His ticket didn’t mention his seat number, but had printed on it CNF (Confirmed). The normal course in such a situation is to wait for the TTE to guide him to his allotted seat. But, Shah found himself tossed between one TTE to another. None of them had an answer.

Shah turned out to be a patient man. Anyone else in his situation would have blown his top long ago. Eventually, Shah did too. He’d been shifted from one bogie to another, and it was now past bed time. But what really got to him finally was the TTE threatening to offload him at the next station. Just because the TTE, noticing that there was an empty seat on the Valsad quota, had decided to give it to somebody else. Who are we to blame here? The TTE, the reservation system or Shah?

Soon, a few fellow passengers decided to look into the matter and told the TTE that there was an empty berth in one of the compartments. Relieved, he quickly assigned the berth. But the episode was far from over. The waiter refused to give Shah a bottle of water since he’d apparently already done his duty in distributing them to everyone who’d boarded at Vadodara, and there was no proof that Shah had boarded there too. But the surprise came when the TTE came back and asked Shah to get off the berth as the person it was allotted to would be boarding the train from Kota (which was due to come after five hours).

Shah stayed silent. But it’s service like this, that too on first-class passenger trains, that makes a traveller think twice before boarding a train.