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Wednesday , July 28 , 2010
 
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Rail ministers many, station in limbo
- Cry over lack of water, seats
Commuters wait for their trains in a waiting room at Patna Junction. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh

Patna, July 27: Bihar has gifted the country some of the most charismatic railway ministers but the station at its capital is unfortunately not among the best in India.

Quenching thirst is a big challenge for passengers boarding trains from Patna Junction that falls under Danapur division. Around two lakh commuters jostle for 201 seats at the station while waiting for trains. The least said about the toilets the better.

“George Fernandes, Ram Vilas Paswan, Lalu Prasad and present chief minister Nitish Kumar have served as Union railway ministers. But none bothered to upgrade the amenities at Patna Junction,” said a regular commuter. The station has two AC and two non-AC waiting rooms. But that’s for the records. None of the ACs function. Of the seven fans, merely two are in working condition.

Everyday, over 150 trains pass through Patna Junction that handles two lakh commuters. However, the 201 seats in the four waiting rooms are grossly inadequate to cope with the demand.

Due to lack of seats, several passengers squat on the platforms, causing inconvenience to fellow passengers. A young couple from Delhi in one of the AC waiting rooms said: “So many things need to be revamped in the waiting rooms. General class passengers too occupy seats here with no one to check the authenticity of passengers.”

Time and again, passengers have demanded better facilities in the waiting rooms. But the pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Several passengers feel the condition of the railway station is pathetic since railway officials do not put in any effort to improve the condition of its basic amenities.

Lucknow University student Mayank Pandey, waiting for a train in the sleeper class waiting room, said: “This is my first visit to Patna. And after experiencing the amenities in the waiting rooms, it is going to be my last too.” Dr Vinod Shanker of Samastipur said: “There is hardly any space to sit in the waiting rooms.”

Speaking over the telephone, Danapur division PRO R.K. Singh said the amenities are adequate in the Patna Junction waiting rooms but commuters are ignorant about how to use those facilities. Regarding the non-functioning of ACs and fans, he attributed it to a technical fault that will be repaired shortly. On the question of cleanliness, Singh blamed commuters for littering platforms and expressed the railway officials’ helplessness in keeping a watch on everyone round the clock. “The waiting rooms are not for every passenger coming to Patna Junction. It is only for those passengers whose trains are delayed or those holding valid tickets.

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