MUMBAI :The Western Railway(WR) this week has started to issue monthly season ticket passes with a twist : a stamp is visible on the passes, which warns commuters not to travel in reserved coaches of long distance express trains. All commuters who renewed their monthly season passes were greeted with such stamps and are angry at the move made by the WR. This is a step to prevent short distance commuters travelling in reserved coaches of long distance trains, causing inconvenience to the reserved passengers whose seats are occupied by the pass holders and resulting in fisticuffs and volley of abuses between the two groups.

At any given time, pass holders are regularly seen travelling in reserved coaches and occupy the seats meant for reserved passengers who have valid tickets. According to WR CPRO Ravinder Bhakar travelling in reserved coaches by pass holders is illegal and it is not a new issue, as in the first place, the pass holders are not authorised to travel in such coaches. Only now, we have started to stamp such warnings on the monthly season tickets, so that the pass holders do not travel in reserved coaches of long distance express trains, said Bhakar. However, the pass holders can travel in the specially reserved Monthly Season Ticket (MST) compartments of select express trains such as Lok Shakti Express, Flying Ranee (to Surat), Valsad Passengers and others, and can also travel in the general coaches of the above express trains, but certainly not in reserved coaches, as they would  be penalised by us, said Bhakar. This rule is also applicable for First Class season ticket pass holders also, he said. If the MST pass holders want to travel itn superfast trains like the Gujarat Express, Flying Ranee and other trains, they will have to pay for the superfast charges separately, and now we will be more strict in applying this rule,said the official. We have ordered the ticket checking staff to take action against MST holders caught travelling in reserved coaches, said Bhakar.

However, various passenger associations like the Dahanu Vaitarna Pravasi Sangh (DVPS) and the Dahanu Vaitarna Pravasi Sevabhavi Sanstha (D PSS) have opposed the WR latest move. Said a member of one of the association, we are aware of the rule that pass holders should not travel in reserved coaches of long distance trains, and only now the WR have started to stamp this rule on our passes, but the WR should also think of increasing the frequency of the Churchgate-Dahanu local so that the pass holders have some better option. Furthermore, all express trains have two or four general coaches which is always crammed with passengers and imagine the sight of more season ticket holders entering the general coaches, causing more chaos,he said. The WR should add more coaches to the local trains due to problemof space in general coaches, he said.

We will be approaching the Divisional Regional Manager (DRM) Mumbai shortly to request him to increase the frequency of local trains between Dahanu and Churchgate and also to increase the general coaches in select express trains to accommodate the extra rush of MST holders in such coaches, now that the WR will be taking action against those MST holders caught travelling in reserved coaches, he said.

The main culprit are the Virar based passengers who create ruckus while travelling in reserved coaches, he alleged. The Virar pass holders take out passes between Churchgate and Saphale and then travel in the reserved coaches in hordes and create fights between the reserved passengers and themselves, and we the passengers travelling till Dahanu and beyond are now facing the gun, as we have  no option left,he said.