The new counters at Ranchi station await opening on Wednesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
The four new booking counters, which were supposed to begin functioning at Ranchi railway station from the first week of April, are yet to open, inconveniencing hundreds of passengers who have to stand in never-ending queues to purchase tickets.
On Wednesday afternoon, complaints poured in and patience ran thin as a huge rush was witnessed in front of all six existing counters — two for current reservation, three for unreserved tickets and one exclusively for ladies/senior citizens/the disabled.
Many people, their legs hurting after standing for hours, chose to squat on the floor.
“Yahan par hum log ko ticket milne mein bahut problems hota hain. (We face a lot of difficulty in buying tickets here). I am standing for half an hour. We should have extra ticket counters,” complained Santosh Kumar, who had come to buy a train ticket to Gaya, his hometown.
An aged passenger, Murari Mandal (60), who wanted to board the Vananchal Express to travel to Pakur, was fuming. He had been standing with his ailing daughter for an hour near counter 6.
“Vananchal Express will leave at 2.30pm. Just 15 minutes are left and just see the long queue. How will I reach Pakur if I don’t get tickets? On top of that, my daughter is not well,” he rued.
“We are praying that the new ticket counters open soon. Just one counter for women, senior citizens and the disabled is not enough. I frequently travel to Lohardaga along with my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. It’s really difficult to keep standing with the baby on my lap,” added Sushma Kumari.
At times, the situation becomes so chaotic with people breaking queues or trying to fight their way to the ticket counters that constables are deputed to control the crowd.
One such constable, V. Bhagat, was seen helping senior citizens at counter 3.
“I have to keep an eye on the passengers, especially senior citizens, physically challenged people and women, from noon to 10pm. In the absence of enough number of booking counters, we have to be extra vigilant as even youngsters try to sneak into the long queues,” he added.
However, railway officials held out hope that the new kiosks, construction of which started last year, would be inaugurated within 15 days.
Neeraj Kumar, senior divisional commercial manager, Ranchi, said: “We could not open the kiosks this month because there were some pending works like procurement of electrical equipment and such other stuff.
“Finishing touches like painting grilles are also left. However, these will be taken care of soon,” said Kumar, who inspected the booking counters last Friday.
Kumar, however, could not say how the four counters would be divided to sell tickets. “All I can say is that one of the counters will be for women, senior citizens and the disabled,” he added.