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The Punctuality of Our Trains

F. M. Britto F. M. Britto
15 Apr 2024

Getting up early at 4.30 a.m., I rushed to the Raipur railway station to catch my train. I browsed through my mobile at the station to see what platform my South Bihar Express would arrive at. Surprisingly, it said the train was arriving four hours late. Though the train commences only from Durg, just one hour's journey from Raipur, it starts from there four hours late. And it would reach my destination, Akaltara, at 2 p.m. when the temperature is high instead of 10.30 a.m.

Unwilling to sit for four hours at the station, I opted to travel by the upcoming Shivnath Express, which would be 1 hour 43 minutes late. Since I could not travel by South Bihar's reserved ticket of Rs 140/-, I had to purchase another ticket of Rs 350 from the TTE to travel by Shivnath's Sleeper coach.

Angered by the loss of my precious Rs 350 for no mistake of mine, I blasted at the TTE, "How you people are running the trains. My train is four hours late. Yesterday, when I reached here by Korba—Vishakhapatnam, it was three hours late. All the trains are running late."
"Sir, You travel occasionally", the young TTE responded, "but we are suffering every day. It is all coming from the top."

At the next minor station, Tilda, three commuters got in. "Today also our boss will shout at us that we are always late," moaned one. "In the evening when we reach the station at 5 p.m. we have to wait 2-3 hours for the train. Local trains are cancelled. Reach home. Eat and sleep. Next day again get up and rush to the station. That has become our life."

"Though they accuse Lalu Prasad of corruption, he ran the railways very well", said one. "Ram Vilas Paswan and Mamta Banerjee also were good Railway ministers", added another. "No one knows who the present Railway minister is", joined another. We know only Modi. He is there everywhere to flag off the Vande Bharat. Only that reaches in time. That is meant for the wealthy. Not for us". "Government wants people to be fed up with the trains running late so they can be privatised", revealed another passenger.

The South Bihar Express, which was supposed to reach Akaltara at 10.22 a.m., reached there only at 5 in the evening. Instead of returning from Patna at 8.15 p.m., it started the following day at 3.15 a.m.

The railways have fixed 30 minutes to cover the 26 km distance from Bilaspur to Akaltara. But even the Super-Fast trains are halted at the outer of Gathora, Jairamnagar, Latia Cabin and Akaltara stations to give way to the goods trains plying with coal from the nearby Korba, delaying the trains for another hour.

When trains run late like this, what about the ordinary passengers travelling with their families this hot summer? I used to enjoy travelling by train. Now, under the present administration, it is hell.

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