I would like to share a scary and life threatening experience I had during my first travel on the newly started Mangalore – Bangalore Train. My younger daughter who is 2 and half years old and myself would have been the first victims of this train, if my husband had not pulled us from the gap between the platform and the train.
After looking at all the hype of this much awaited train, as early as 3rd Dec (2 days after they started issuing the tickets), I tried to book my tickets for the 21st Dec on second class sleeper and was very surprised to find that I had been waitlisted at 48. But going by the agent’s confidence that there would be cancellations and being the holidays season, they would add extra coaches, I went ahead and booked tickets for my family (my mother-in-law, husband, myself with our 2 daughters aged 4 & 2 and half years). I would check the status at the end of everyday on 139 and we were steadily moving up the list and on the day of travel when I checked up the status we were all confirmed. I must add here that I was specially impressed by the 139 service, where I got my status in a minute by just giving my PNR number. Since our ticket said “boarding at City Railway
Station”, and departure was at 20.55 hrs, we started from our house in Thyagarajanagar 1 Block as early as 7.25 p m in a City taxi, expecting a traffic jam as people would be moving out of the city for the long holidays. But surprisingly we reached the City Railway
Station at around 7.50 pm (a good one hour before the departure) and went to Platform 9 to wait for our train.
The train which was supposed to come to the platform at 8.55 pm was delayed and there was not one Official in the platform to answer peoples’ queries regarding the location of the confirmed seats, time of departure…etc. Finally we saw the train coming in to the platform at about 9.15 and started to read the charts and find our sleeper allocation. After about 2 mins, we found an official near coach S1 with a chart who informed us that we were allotted sleepers in EX1 (extra coach). These extra coaches were at the end of the train and as we reached to get on the train, my husband put one big kit bag and one suitcase, and then our 4 year old daughter onto the train. There was a Samaritan in form of a gentlemen around 30 years, who held my daughter and helped take our bags inside, immediately we realized the train had started moving. So I tried to climb onto the train holding my 2 yr old daughter, but missed to get a foothold on the step of the train and fell with my left leg dangling in the space between the platform and the train. Immediately my husband who was behind me pulled me with my daughter in my left hand on to the platform. Once he saw us safe, he ran towards the moving train which was gaining speed and where our 4 yr old daughter was panicked and crying. She had seen me fall down and was trying rush towards the door by was held back by the gentleman I mentioned before. By now, there was total commotion on the platform where I had fallen down along with my 2 yr old daughter in my left hand and with my mom-in law beside me. We were still shouting for the train to stop with people banging onto the train. We then noticed that the train was slowing to a halt. We later came to know that it was the TC who had pulled the chain to stop the train. My husband gathered our 4 year old daughter and ran back towards us. We were all still in such a shock that I could not speak, people around were asking lot of concerned questions like a phone number, how many kids were traveling with us and many were peeping into the gap between the train and the platform to see if the kid had fallen into it or even worse, under the train. The women around me helped me get back to my feet, in the mean time my mom-in-law had crawled out of the crowd around us, towards the train to find our 4 year old daughter. All o[censored]s were together now and people around helped us to get onto the train. Needless to say we were all badly shaken by what had happened, we just sat down feeling grateful to God and thanking him for being alive and in one piece. Then TC Thammaiah ( I hope I have got the name right)came to us and said that he had logged in the ledger that he had pulled the chain for the train to stop. Also on our prodding, he mentioned that the train had stopped for just 5 mins., which explained why things had gone so wrong. For the train to stop for just 5 mins in a major station like the Bangalore City Junction where hundreds of people( I am sure) have to board such a big train with extra coaches, is a big and fatal error on part of the administration. Is 5 mins enough for people like us who have small kids, to board the train along with the luggage ?, is what I would like to ask the concerned officials, whoever is responsible for instructing the train driver. The TC said we should have boarded the train regardless of the coach / compartment we had been allotted and once we were on the train, we had to find our way to our allotted sleeper coach. Fair enough but is 5 mins still enough for such a big station where people from all over the city who cannot travel all the way to Yeshwanthpur thru’ traffic jams, try to board the train in Majestic. If the Bangalore City Junction should be allotted only 5 mins stop, it might as well be cancelled so that people are instructed to board the train only at Yeshwantpur. What if one o[censored]s had boarded the train and the rest were left on the platform ? Who will pull the chain to stop the train? Will the TC be around always ? People would not dare pulling the chain fearing penalty. When we were looking out for an official for our berth allocations, he was not available. All of them came along with the train, in such a case, is 5 mins enough to board the train?
After the bad and a good start, bad for going through such a fatal experience and good for coming out of it unscathed and safe, we settled in for the night. Also on observation, the train stopped at Mysore for 23 mins at around 12 am, at Hassan for 15 mins from 2.30 am to 2.45 am and at Sakleshpur for 15 mins from 3.45 am to 4.am and a similar duration at Subramanya road in the wee hours. This can be verified with the train’s log book. At 2am and 4 am in the morning the stations wore a deserted look with hardly any passengers to board the train. When such small stations compared to Bangalore can have the train stopping for 15 mins and more, should’nt Bangalore’s main station warrant for a similar stop duration instead of the deadly 5 mins stop, endangering lives of its passengers. I am sure many travelers and railway
officials would agree with me. On our return journey I was still paranoid about getting on to the train. Since we had confirmed tickets beforehand we boarded the train 6518 at Mangalore City Station (start point). The train stopped for 10 mins at the next stop Kankanady and went on to stop for more than 10 mins in each stop thereafter, like Bantwal, Kabaka Puttur, Subramanya Road, Saklespura and at Hassan it stopped for almost an hour from 3.18 am to 4.23 am. What I don’t understand is that if the train is running late, it should not compensate the delay by cutting short the duration it stops at each station. Also in the morning when we disembarked from the train at about 7.45 am, it stopped only for about 5 mins, within which time we managed to get down with luggage and the kids. When the train started moving we saw many of them struggling to get down. If this continues, there will be a lot of accidents and the railways administration will be blamed for it.
This incident has left me shaken and scared enough not to travel by train again, or for at least as long as my kids grow up. The kids were quite scared and my 4 yr old daughter who saw me and my younger daughter falling while trying to board the train, was scared for the next few days that she did not leave my side even while traveling by car. The younger one who fell down along with me was scared for the whole night that she did not utter a single word or even sleep well till the next morning.
Who is responsible for what happened to us ? We were in the Bangalore City Station a good 1 hr before the train’s arrival and subsequent departure.
My intention of writing what happened to me was to bring about an awareness among the people who travel by train everyday and let them know this could happen to anybody. It might take a long time for me to get on to a train once again, but nevertheless I know I have been gifted another life by God and if my husband had not been behind us to pull us out of that gap, I would not be writing this for sure. It sure has been a miracle to come out of this without even a scratch.
Thanking God that I survived the train journey ,
Ps: I called up the Deputy Station Manager's office at Bangalore and enquired about the address to send the above compliant. The indifferent attitude of the Deputy Station Manager came forth when he said that they could not do anything about it, since the stop over instruction was fixed by railways board and said that I could write about this to anybody and disconnected the phone even before I could explain anything to him.
Today 4/1/08 at 9.30am at Trichy junction reservation counter no.5 iam standing in line for reservation from trichy to erode(25/01/08)at janshatabdi and erode to changanaseri and return ticket on 26/01/08 from ernakulam to trichy.Totally 3 forms i had to book.But that reservation staff counter no.5 at 9.30am he regreted me that 3 forms not accepted only 2 forms can be reserved.I asked why,he said me again you come in another line.But as per rules onward and return journey can be booked with 3 forms.please take necessary action on booking counters.We are loosing our office time for more than 1hour and standing in line.