To provide a permanent solution to this, Pune railway division’s Railway Protection Force (RPF) has decided to start a token system for long-distance train passengers here. This will be a firstof-its-kind initiative in the country, with token numbers doled out to unreserved passengers standing in queue. RPF’s Pune commissioner D Vikas said, “Every afternoon and evening, several long-distance trains to Patna, Kolkata, Gorakhpur and other destinations leave from Pune railway station.With the reserved bogies, each train also has general bogies for unreserved passengers, with numbers differing from train to train. Passengers travelling by these often come a day in advance or very early that day, as queues to gain entry can be huge. It also becomes difficult for police to manage and control the crowd -handling fights, checking tickets and keeping an eye on corrupt practices to give passengers easy entry.“
Most long-distance trains arriving at Pune come to platform 1; passengers generally sit on the platform, with RPF and Government Railway Police (GRP) officials monitoring queues.
Vikas added, “Passengers travelling by general bogies are usually below poverty line (BPL) individuals, travelling to their villages in other states. They suffer a lot due to these unruly queues and no guarantee of a seat. So, we decided to streamline the queue management process with a token system at Pune railway station. Passengers with unreserved tickets will get a printed token four hours before the journey at the station, keeping in mind the seating capacity of that train’s general bogies. Once a passenger gets a token, she will definitely get on the train. Video shooting will be done while tokens are given to avoid passengers trying to get extra seats.“
The implementation of this system is to start in 15 days. RPF will be adding more policemen and barricades for its initial days. “We appeal to all NGOs, companies and other organisations in the city -if they wish to come forward and help us in any way, they should,“ Vikas said. Some passengers have welcomed the move. Kishore Saira, a regular to Patna, said, “Our trips to the village are often last-minute emergencies. So, we take unreserved tickets and travel by general bogies. If the train is in the evening, we have to reach the station the previous night or early morning of the same day to get a seat. It is a taxing experience. If RPF is really starting such a token system, it will be wonderful.“ Another frequent passenger, Hitesh Sahu, said, “Some months ago, when I was going to Kolkata by the Howrah Express, I had a fight with a group of passengers as they skipped the queue. Even cops take money and push passengers directly into the bogies. This token system will hopefully reduce such practices, helping only genuine passengers safely get seats.“