Railway Panel to recommend Cess on Passengers to maintain Stations

Chennai (MAS): A passenger amenities committee of the railways plans to recommend a cess on passengers to maintain stations and trains clean if there is a shortage of funds.

The four-member committee headed by Chalavadi T Narayanaswamy found that the railways were struggling to maintain stations because of huge patronage. “We will recommend collecting a one or two percent passenger amenities cess on the lines of education cess charged by other establishment. This will solve the problem of fund crunch if any,” said Chalavady T Narayanaswamy after inspecting Chennai Central Railway Station on Tuesday.

“We have also told the railways to introduce mechanised cleaning of platforms and stations as early as possible because manual scavenging cannot be allowed any more. The railways are struggling to keep stations clean because manual scavenging has been abolished by an order by the ministry,” he said.

The committee made a surprise visit to Egmore, Beach and Perambur railway stations on Monday.

“Central Railway Station is better because it is a major station and there are facilities for maintenance. Beach railway station was dirty and officials have told us that there was no water available to keep the station clean,” he added.

Railway stations are not clean because of the huge volume of people using them at large stations and due to lack of facilities and shortage of water and such limitations at small stations, according to him.

The committee, which has so far visited about 100 stations in 17 states, found that there were “varied practices adopted by different zonal railways for cleanliness. It is the medical department that is in charge at some stations while it is the commercial department at others. At some stations there are mechanised cleaning. The ministry should issue clear cut guidelines to all zonal railways on cleanliness.”

Narayanaswamy said that the railways had received a number of representations and complaints about discourteous behaviour and over charging by licensed porters.

“I have instructed officials to issue a laminated photo identity card with name and address of porters on one side and rate list on the other side. They should pin it on their shirts. There should also be provision of temporary and permanent withdrawal of their badges,” he said.

The committee was constituted in July 2013 and submits report once in a quarter to the railway board and the ministry. The committee will visit Thiruvananthapuram, Kanyakumari and Nagercoil stations on Wednesday.