Thousands of students enrolled in universities outside the state may have to spend time without their families this festive season.
The students, wishing to visit their hometown to celebrate Durga Puja, are not finding confirmed rail tickets. There are no train tickets to the city from Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai and Hyderabad during Durga Puja, from October 11 to 14. Navratri will begin on October 5.
Ansu Chandra, a third-year student of RV College of Engineering, Bangalore, was unable to get a confirmed ticket to Patna. “I have not visited my house in the last year. I really want to celebrate Durga Puja with my family. However, I am not finding a confirmed ticket on the Sanghamitra Express (12295).”
Ansu said the railways should run special trains during the festival. “There should be special trains operating during the festival because many students want to visit their family. It is not possible for everybody to afford flight tickets.”
There is a huge waiting list for trains like the Sanghamitra Express (12295), the Rajdhani Express (12310), the Shramjeevi Express (12392) and the Pune-Patna Superfast Express (12149), both in general and AC coaches.
Abhijeet Kumar, a fourth-year student of M. Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology, Bangalore, echoes the same sentiments.
“I have been trying to get a confirmed ticket to my hometown (Patna), but couldn’t arrange for it yet. Though it’s still a month to go for Durga Puja, train tickets are not even available in the RAC (reservation against cancellation) quota.”
The rush has left the students with no option than to depend on touts to get their tickets confirmed.
Abhijeet said: “I am trying to get a ticket in AC-3 tier through a tout but he is charging me Rs 1,000 more than the original price of Rs 1,947. He told me that the charge would go up the more I delay.”
The students might face similar problems in November during Diwali and Chhath. Zishan Kazmi, a student of Galgotias College of Engineering and Technology, Delhi, said: “It is difficult to get confirmed tickets to my hometown (Patna) because there is a huge rush in most of the trains. If my ticket doesn’t get confirmed soon, I will have to cough up more to get it confirmed through touts.”
Amitabh Prabhakar, the chief public relations officer of East Central Railway, said: “Railways do run Puja special trains depending on the demand of the passengers and availability of coaches. If train tickets are not available during the festive season, the railways run special trains to clear the rush.”
A South Eastern Railway official said: “We are planning to start Puja special trains to Howrah, Delhi, Mumbai, Patna and Muzaffarpur. However, the date has not been finalised yet.”