Chaos at Chandigarh railway station, courtesy auto drivers

Looking for potential customers, they hound weary travellers

Chaos at Chandigarh railway station, courtesy auto drivers

Auto drivers look for customers at the Chandigarh railway station. TRIBUNE PHOTO: NITIN MITTAL

Tribune News Service

Amarjot Kaur

Chandigarh, January 13

The sight of auto-rickshaw drivers looking for potential customers in train passengers who are dropped off at the city railway station has become a regular vexation for weary travellers and the railway authorities in the recent past. While the entry of auto drivers and cabbies is banned at the station platform, the “without platform ticket” challans and constant checks are doing little to keep them contained to the one-way “in road” of the station, which facilitates easy pickups and drop-offs for passengers and is a convenient drive-through for taxi and auto service providers.

Recently, Svati Saggi had gone to receive her friend at the station, who was visiting the city from Delhi. “My friend just got off the train and reached the exit point of the station towards the Chandigarh side, but right when she got off the platform and headed for the stairs, two auto drivers started hounding her,” she said. “She was too tired of the long journey and had told the driver that her friend was here but he just didn’t listen. She was completely flustered.”

According to the data provided by the railway authorities, 870 people have been fined in the past six months for entering the city railway platform without a ticket. An official from the ticket-checking department of the station, requesting anonymity, said, “There’s a regular inflow of auto and taxi drivers at the station and of all people who have been caught at the station without the platform ticket, most are auto drivers and cabbies.” The official added, “While the ticket-checking squad, the GRP and the RPF keep a regular check on those entering the platform, the station is big and open from all sides, making it difficult to spot a trespasser or a miscreant sometimes.”

Another official from the RPF said, “Though 90 per cent of the auto drivers are straight-jacketed people trying to earn a decent living, there are some who actually work for hotels at the nearby Daria village. These auto drivers take a heavy commission from hotel owners for providing them with a guest as they have tie-ups with hotel owners. These people don’t look for regular customers, but for those who want to stay in the city so they can make bigger bucks. They usually wait around for days at the station looking for the right customer.”

The ordeal

My friend just got off the train and reached the exit point of the station towards the Chandigarh side, but right when she got off the platform and headed for the stairs, two auto drivers started hounding her. — Svati Saggi

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