COVID-19 protocol leaves travellers, railway ticket booking staff in Confusion

As per the protocol, the travellers have to mention the detailed postal address of the place they are visiting
Railways upgraded its software while the reservation form lacked specific space
A well-intended measure as part of health surveillance tool by Railway Board has ended-up creating confusion at field-level causing undue trouble during booking of travel tickets at PRS windows. Under COVID-19 protocol, Railways has made it mandatory for travellers to mention details of address they would be visiting post-travel. However, these days people do not have an idea about post office or PIN code and since the same is not available, the system can not process the tickets.
Therefore, day in an day out the front-line staff of Railways is facing the brunt of travellers who are venting their ire on them for their troubles. Ever since Railways permitted booking of the ticket from passenger reservation system (PRS) windows it introduced a norm wherein it was made mandatory to declare the place of stay along with other postal details. Though the change was also incorporated in PRS software the reservation form, however, lacked separate column for mentioning address where the traveller would be visiting or staying. After the traveller submits reservation form the PRS clerk directs filling-up other details leaving former clueless as no space is available for mentioning details sought by Railways. From therein confusion sets in and an acrimonious exchange of words starts between the would-be a traveller and the railway staff leaving the others in the queue wondering when their turn would come. Basant Shukla, Secretary, Bharatiya Yatri Kendra (BYK), said, “Railways should take a review of its health surveillance tool as the same is causing unnecessary hardship to travellers. Apart from the delay in booking a ticket, the tool is going to hardly effective if people are visiting for a single day or shifts to some other place from the one mentioned in the reservation form.
The authorities may have an advantage in case need for contact tracing arose but many other factors are also needed to be taken into consideration.” Even the booking staff at the ticket counters said they are facing the flak for no fault of theirs. The matter was promptly conveyed to seniors as the same is also reflecting on the performance of enquiry-cum-booking clerks at the PRS windows as ticket sales have trickled down. The system does not move forward unless and until the details of visiting the place are fed-in but the same is not understood by the citizens who are in hurry to complete the formalities. Satish Yadav, Member, Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee (ZRUCC), Central Railway, said that not much is achieved by jotting down details of visiting a place as who knows for how long the person was going to stay put at one spot.
Also, it is learnt that most of the travellers do not mention correct details about the visiting place thereby defeating the very purpose of surveillance. Following-up on ground reports, Venu Nair, General Secretary, National Railway Mazdoor Union (NRMU), last month itself apprised the senior Central Railway bosses about the trouble at PRS windows due to health surveillance tool and called for taking a review of the same. Debashish Bhattacharya, President, NRMU, Nagpur Division, reacted with disbelief at the measure introduced by Railways saying same goes against the very ethos of COVID-19 protocol wherein social distancing is the norm. Similarly, the hassle that arises due to lack of details about visiting place leads to chaos and this in turn results in crowding which is the first thing to be eschewed to keep the pandemic in check.