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Simply RAT(TLED)

RATS! EVEN trains are not free of them these days. Lightning fast, they scurry across coaches, brushing past your toes and awakening you to a rat race of a different kind.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2006 01:50 IST

RATS! EVEN trains are not free of them these days.

Lightning fast, they scurry across coaches, brushing past your toes and awakening you to a rat race of a different kind.

No compartment; be it general or air-conditioned, is free of the menace. Nor is any train, be it VIP or non-VIP.

And the hosts, the Indian Railways, are quite aware of the presence of the menace, which accompanies you all the way to your destination. Talk about free service!

So, what has the railways done so far? They have circulated a feedback form in air-conditioned coaches with a column “Have you spotted a rat in the compartment?” They also claim to have sprayed medicines to rid the coaches of rats, mice and cockroaches.

“I can’t sleep due to fear of rats nibbling my luggage,” says Purushottam Khanna, who travels regularly by Rapti Sagar Express between Lucknow and Bhopal.

“It’s useless paying so much to travel in second AC, if one can’t sleep well,” he rues.

The experience of passengers of the VIP train Chennai-Delhi Grand Trunk Express is no different.

“I kept on moving my luggage from one berth to the other due to fear of rats,” says Kailash.

He recalls an instance when a train had to be delayed till a rat was driven out of a coach somewhere near Chennai. “Earlier, cockroaches gave us sleepless nights. Now, rats have taken over,” says Manish Sarathi.

The menace was earlier restricted to platforms and surrounding areas of railway stations, including Charbagh. “It’s shocking that rats have also encroached upon trains,” says another passenger Rohit Agrawal.

“What’s the railways doing?” he wonders.

Food in pantry cars attracts rats, according to the Railways.

“You may not find rats in trains without pantry cars,” says a TTE. The pantry car owners must ensure coaches are free of rats, he adds.

Member Mechanical R R Bhandari talking to Hindustan Times over phone from Delhi admits the presence of rats and cockroaches in air conditioned compartments. He attributes the cause to eating habits of passengers. “We have been trying-hard to remove them from trains, but have not achieved total success,” he adds. As regards the feed back form, he says the main objective of the form is to know how far we have been successful in our endeavour to remove rats from trains.

ADRM (II) of the Lucknow division of Northern Railway Rajendra Singh says precautions are being taken to see to it that compartments are sanitised in this respect. “We are spraying medicines to keep rats and mice off trains,” he adds.

Hope Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav does something to rid the menace in his soon-to be-announced railway budget.

First Published: Feb 24, 2006 01:50 IST