Assam: Rail passengers' body flags 'lapses' in commuter facilities, seeks redressal

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Guwahati, Jun 11 (PTI) Highlighting “several lapses” in commuter facilities, the Assam Rail Passengers' Association (ARPA) has urged the government to look into amenities keeping in mind the safety and comfort of train travellers in the state.

ARPA general secretary Dipankar Sharma claimed that a number of memorandums have been submitted to senior officials of the Railways, but no concrete steps have been initiated so far.

"We have been raising various issues related to passenger amenities... However, nothing has been done on those points," he told PTI.

Sharma pointed out that local trains are being cancelled frequently for non-interlocking work in view of upgradation and doubling of network.

"This has affected the day-to-day life of commuters. Their inconvenience could have been minimised by going for doubling work from one side and avoiding patch doubling," he said.

Sharma also alleged that new lines are being constructed, ignoring safety aspects. At Goalpara, Boko, Bamunigaon, Mirza, Dudhnoi and Rangjuli, passengers have to get down literally on stones on the railway tracks, he said.

Talking about foot over bridge (FoB) facilities, he said designs are prepared and built with ramp facilities, which is essential as per norms.

"Without ramps, senior citizens, ladies with kids and passengers carrying heavy luggage are forced to climb staircases with much discomfort. This has been pointed out to the railway authorities several times, but no attention was paid," Sharma claimed, citing “instances” of many stations, including Guwahati.

Some big stations have escalators, but they are “non-functional” for several hours during the day, and many people do not know how to use these, he said.

Another issue the ARPA has been highlighting is the “absence of power backup at most stations” in the state in case of electricity failure.

“This compels passengers to use mobile torch lights at the stations," Sharma said.

"Another big problem in stations of the Assam and the northeast are toilets, which are mostly constructed only in the first platform," he said.

Lack of adequate sheds in platforms and availability of clean drinking water are some of the other issues, the ARPA general secretary said.

Responding to the association’s remarks, Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) Chief Public Relations Officer Sabyasachi De told PTI that work on doubling of tracks always takes place in patches on existing networks.

"In existing tracks, we cannot do doubling from one side. It is done on the portion which is not complete. It can be carried out from one side while laying new lines," he said.

Regarding FoBs, De said the NFR has installed escalators and lifts instead of ramps depending upon the footfall of a particular station.

“Moreover, all major trains usually stop at Platform Number 1 of stations and it is directly accessible to the main roads. So, no ramps or FoBs are needed for entry or exit," he said.

"And the main problem in constructing toilets in other platforms is space constraint. The platforms are smaller in size. However, we agree this is a problem and we may look into it in future," De added. PTI TR RBT