Off-track stations!

Intense City
Last Updated 20 November 2010, 19:13 IST

The Bangalore City railway station, with a daily traffic of more than 65,000 passengers is  running out of space. Stretched beyond capacity, the critical entry point to the City is virtually bursting at its seams.

Here are some glaring inadequancies that ought to hit you in the eye. The Station, which grosses a passenger revenue of Rs 33.56 lakh per day and is arguably one of the largest in the country, lacks even proper seating arrangements. Buying a ticket at the recently renovated  counters is no less than a Herculean task. In the absense of signages, it is a tough job for the passengers to locate these counters and thus lose precious time.  
Barely three weeks since it was opened, the building housing the counters has already turned into a seething mass of chaos.

Passengers still go to the old counters and ask around in desperation. “The least the authorities could have done was to put up a prominent board saying unreserved tickets would be issued only from the new counters outside,” fumes a passenger. Now only a hand-written notice hangs at the old counter.

Further, the signboards reading "unreserved tickets" are only in English. At any given time, nearly 300 passengers stand in serpentine queues to purchase tickets. As there is no segregation of queues, men and women jostle for space. Although there is a separate counter for senior citizens, yet lack of space and the huge rush ensure that other passengers sneak in. Even as queues spill over the building, only 11 the 14 counters issue tickets.

"Due to lack of seating space with shelter, we are forced to stand outside with our luggage," Savitha Jayaram, a passenger, complains. There are several others like her who are forced to stand outside the building, often braving the rain and heat.

Platform ticket-vending machines:

The platform vending machines, two at the main entrance and another inside the station, have not been maintained properly as only one of them functions. Sometimes even this stops working and somebody issues the good old card tickets. To buy the ticket, sold at Rs three, one has to apparently make a few failed attempts at the machine. More bizarre, however, is the appointment of a person with speech disability to assist passengers by explaining the process in gestures and provide the coins, if necessary!
More and efficient machines could have easily solved the problem.

Security check

The inadequacy of security arrangements can be gauged from the fact that the railway authorities are yet to wake up even after an army jawan was murdered at the station premises recently.

Shockingly, none of the security check machines installed at the entrance to platform No 1 functions. Until their repair, guards have been asked to frisk passengers with hand-held detectors. Little care, however, has been taken to ensure that passengers and their baggage are put to frisking before they are allowed to enter the platform. "This kind of reckless attitude towards the safety of passengers will put everyone at risk," points out Kumar Hanumanth, a passenger. 

Space crunch

The railway station is so short of space that many passengers either sleep on sidewalks or platforms and squat on footpaths whereas many others lie haphazardly all over and outside the station. Adding to this misery are leaking taps, a wet floor, and stray dogs.

Devoid of proper seating facilities, passengers are left with no choice but to sit wherever they find space. "It is a real disgrace that such a big railway station does not have a single facility in proper condition. Forget comfort, passengers don’t have even the basic facilities,” laments Manjari Sharma, another passenger.

Even the elderly have little relief as they are forced to walk a long distance to use the ramp which should have been ideally located at the main entrance. 

Empty digital train reservation charts, dysfunctional information boards, erroneous sign boards and outdated boards displaying passenger information are the prominent technical glitches hindering the railway station. With just a single and crowded enquiry counter, passengers have to run from pillar to post to find their way.

(Published 20 November 2010, 19:13 IST)

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