The Telegraph
Monday , December 10 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Platform poser with few porters

- Recce of how two A-listers — capital junction & Tatanagar — fare on revamp scorecard

Travel light if you want to go to Ranchi Junction now, or prepare to sweat it out. The junction-station is a macro version of a gym.

Passengers need to lug their suitcases, trolley bags and backpacks up the steps of the footbridge. You’ll be lucky to find a coolie as there are only 30 of them in the junction of Jharkhand’s capital city, the only A-category station of South Eastern Railway’s Ranchi division.

Compare this figure with others — movement of 54 trains and 50,000 to 60,000 passengers every day.

Due to the ongoing renovation work on platform No. 1 since November 22, passengers must necessarily go to platforms 2, 3, 4 and 5 for trains.

Which means, the need for coolies has increased. Without them, every one, including senior citizens and women, must hoist their luggage up the steps of the footbridge.

If you so want, you can approach the May I Help You kiosk for assistance at any of the platforms.

But the assistance doesn’t include coolies.

If you need it, you or your attendant can approach a railway official with a request for any of the four wheelchairs stocked at the stationmaster’s office on platform No. 1.

Ramps are also built at the end of all five platforms.But that won’t help your luggage.

Platform No. 1 revamp is a reality check for the previously laid-back Ranchi Junction.

The worst sufferers are senior citizens who need to jostle with the crowds on the foot overbridge. Most can’t find coolies, as younger and quicker-on-the-uptake passengers grab hold of the few that there are.

“After I alighted from Patna-Ranchi Janshatabdi Express last Tuesday around 2pm on platform No. 3, I looked for a coolie in vain. Then, I lifted my bag and moved towards the footbridge. But it was so crowded that I balked as I knew I had to hold the railing and climb steps slowly. So, I waited for 20 minutes on the platform for the rush to clear out,” said septuagenarian Dineshwar Singh, travelling alone.

Manoj Sharma (72), who alighted from the same train, said the train journey was easier than the one from the platform to the auto-rickshaw stand.

Coolie Arun Tanti pleaded helplessness.

“Yes, we are so few in number now. When a train arrives, it becomes very tough to render service to the aged passengers. We are all in a rush,” he said.

His colleague Rajendra Tanti agreed. “It’s difficult for us too, to negotiate our way on the crowded footbridge as it is the single link of all platforms. Now, with platform No. 1 out of action, 4 and 5 also used for passenger trains, the footbridge is very crowded,” he said.

Station manager H.K. Pandey said the problem would continue for one more month. “Renovation of platform No. 1, which started on November 22, will take 45 days. It is important work and can’t be avoided. People have to bear with us. If there’s a specific problem, we are ready to help,” he said.

Commuters, take it or leave it.