Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Indian Railways owe me Rs. 5!

I've been away from my blog for a really really long time and this probably isn't the best ‘come back’ post for me, but I'm going to write it anyway (and hope that it doesn't turn out to be one of those half-written posts that I could never manage to go back to and complete. Believe me, in the last two months, there have been more of those than anything else!)

Also, since I haven't written anything in the last two months, I'd take any chance that comes my way and just write anyway.

Right now - at 7.46 AM, I am aboard a train from Dadar to be somewhere. Now I know that the ticket counter at Nerul station doesn't open until 7.00 AM and I had to take the 7.03 train. So like a responsible citizen I asked my sister to buy a coupon booklet for me on her way home last night so that I would have a valid ticket while traveling and I could take the 7.03 train without having to worry about standing in line and missing the train.

When I reached Nerul station I noticed that out of the 3 coupon validating machines, one wasn't working (which is generally the case) - it wasn't even switched on; and out of the other two, one of them displayed the wrong time. The other one, rather the only one that displayed the right time or looked like it could ‘validate’ anything, was the one that had “NOT WORKING” written on it with a pen. I could've very well been a prank.

But since the other apparently working machine had the wrong time on it, I thought I'd go with the one that ‘appeared’ to be working - it at least showed the right time! I inserted a Rs. 5 coupon and it came out printed with “22 APRIL 15.43 NEU”!!!! It freaking printed yesterday's date and 3.43 PM as the time!!! Talk about misleading!! Any TC could accuse me of reusing yesterday's coupon and charge me with a fine! I couldn't print over it because that would be an offense too! So I had to let a Rs. 5 coupon go waste!

I tried the other ‘working’ machine with the wrong time, but that wasn't printing at all! (Yeah,I noticed there are too many exclamations and quotes.) So the only machine that was printing, was printing the wrong date and rendering the coupons thus printed, useless.

Now before you judge me as petty, hear me out. It's not just about my coupon. There are thousands of people that travel daily by local trains in Mumbai and not all of them have monthly passes. And since there's always a huge line for the ticket, quite a lot of people use coupons.

Tickets or coupons are not always checked by the TCs but some people still like to be careful, because they don't want to be caught ticketless on the off chance that the TC does decide to show up and do their job. And then there are people like me who insist in buying tickets irrespective of whether there's a chance of the tickets being checked just because it's the law and you have to pay for services that you use.

Imagine the number of coupons that are going to be printed with the wrong date out of that machine today. If people are honest, they're going to discard such wrongly printed coupons and print new ones. That's just money going into the Indian Railways' pocket!! And that's just about today. God knows how long that machine has been misprinting and not been fixed!!

Great job Railways! Proud of you!!

P.S. In order to have a valid ticket, I ended up writing the date, time and station code on the coupons by hand (I've been told by Railway authorities at the station that it's considered valid) and I guess that's what I'm going to do henceforth because I don't trust them machines anymore!! 

- Nikita Azad.