Getting train tickets, a hassle for disabled people

Getting train  tickets, a hassle for disabled people

Sai Giridhar, a 38-year-old man suffering from myasthenia gravis – an autoimmune neuromuscular disease – is a harried man. For, each time he has to travel by train, Giridhar has to go through the ordeal of going to the railway station to book a ticket.

If he is not lucky, his struggle gets worse when he has to go for the emergency quota.Similar is the story of A T Hussain, a 71-year-old retired professor who is totally blind. He faces the same challenge every time he travels to Hyderabad where he was teaching, or to Nagpur where his daughter resides. On each occasion, he has to convince the railway officials that he is entitled to a seat in emergency quota.

Securing a ticket or concession they are entitled to has become a herculean task for the differently-abled persons in the City.

“The special booking counter at the City Railway Station is of little use as we do not get tickets there. And, if I ask the officials to issue me a ticket in the emergency quota, they say that the quota is meant only for VIPs and VVIPs. But, this is contrary to the fact that the emergency quota is for the blind and disabled,” Hussain, a resident of JP Nagar, says.

Sharing his experience, Giridhar, an agent for a telecom company and a resident of Vijayanagar, said the railway authorities had not helped him in getting the benefits he is entitled to.

“Recently, I went to the railway station to get my unique card under a newly launched scheme of the Indian Railways. However, the officials at the station told me they were not aware of any such scheme. I am unable to travel alone and have to take an escort passenger with me. Both of us are entitled to concessional fare. But, the railway authorities did not help me at all in the matter,” Giridhar alleged.

However, when contacted, Divisional Railway Manager A K Agarwal told Deccan Herald that they had not received any such complaints. He said there were separate counters for differently-abled people at the City Railway Station and the Yeswantpur Railway Station. “Nevertheless, I will look into the matter,” he added.

Last year, the Indian Railways launched an e-initiative under which differently-abled people could book rail tickets online at concessional fares. The objective was to prevent them from coming all the way to railway stations to book tickets. Under the initiative, the Railways were to issue identity cards with specific numbers to differently-abled people.
 The information will be built into the computerised passenger reservation system across the country which ensures that differently-abled people avail themselves of fare concession even while booking tickets online.

The move came after the Railway Board received several complaints from differently- abled passengers and social activists. The issue was also raised with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, the public sector undertaking handling online ticketing operations.

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