Railways’ policies lead to face-offs between TTEs and migrant workers on trains from Kerala

Kerala has 30 lakh migrant workers; hardly 13 trains operate to migrant heartlands; Railways issue an indiscriminate number of waiting list tickets, leading to crowding on trains

April 04, 2024 08:58 pm | Updated 08:58 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The murder of travelling ticket examiner (TTE) V. Vinod by a ticketless migrant worker in Thrissur on Tuesday has brought to light the apathy of Railways in addressing the issues faced by both passengers and officials on trains from Kerala to the migrant heartlands in the northern and north-eastern States.

In 2022, a TTE was attacked by a gang of migrant workers on the Ernakulam-Howrah Antyodaya Express for penalising a ticketless traveller.

According to the TTEs under the Southern Railway, the failure of Railways to address the issues on the trains heading from Kerala towards the north and north-eastern States, and the authorities’ “greed” to raise maximum income from a limited number of trains on these routes have increased the face-offs between the TTEs and the migrant workers.

It is estimated that there are around 30 lakh migrant workers in Kerala. However, there are hardly 13 trains a week from Kerala to States like Assam and West Bengal, which account for the majority of migrant population working in the State.

According to K.M. Anilkumar, divisional secretary, Dakshin Railway Employees Union (DREU), with Railways issuing an indiscriminate number of sleeper tickets in waiting list and general tickets, on trains to these States, each coach having a seating capacity of 72 passengers will have 100 to 150 passengers. Passengers with sleeper tickets in the waiting list taken from the railway reservation counters can travel on these coaches. Railways issue around 300 tickets in the waiting list quota. Since the migrants know that they can travel in sleeper coaches with waiting list tickets taken from railway counters, they prefer taking tickets from the counters.?

Demand-availability mismatch

Further, the cases of ticketless/irregular travel are high on these trains due to a big mismatch between the demand and availability of seats, according to Mr. Anilkumar.

In addition, the monthly quota fixed for a single-man special squad is ?8 lakh. The bid to penalise migrant workers travelling without tickets often leads to friction between the railway staff and migrant workers.

A TTE is in charge of five coaches. In a State like Kerala, where stops are allotted within every 20-25 minutes even for superfast trains, taking a round through all the coaches takes more time for the TTEs. By this time, the trains would have stopped in at least five to seven stops and migrant passengers would have occupied even the aisle of coaches, said N. Ravikumar, chief ticket examiner and joint general secretary of the DREU.

Staff strength has not been increased in proportion to the number of trains or passengers. Also, the sanctioning of Railway Protection Force staff is still based on the standards fixed in 1970.

Penalty as income

Moreover, Railways now treated penalty earnings through TTEs as an income, said Mr. Ravikumar. The coaches would be crowded with six to eight migrants in every row of seats.

The railway staff demanded that Railways should raise the number of trains on these routes in proportion to the demand. At present, from each train on these routes, Railways raised revenue equal to operating two or three trains by issuing a large number of general tickets and sleeper tickets in waiting list. Since most of the migrant workers were uneducated and were not aware of their rights, they would always travel like cattle on these coaches without any complaints, said the railway staff.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news