South Central Railway seems to be harnessing women power in preventing revenue leakage through ticketless travelling. Its all-women squads, called ‘Tejaswini’, have set cash registers ringing by fining passengers who are trying to dodge the system.
In 2012, members of Tejaswini in Secunderabad, Vijayawada and Guntur helped SCR earn Rs 2.43 crore, an increase from Rs 2.25 crore in 2011.
Describing their work, the squad members said they are split into batches before boarding trains headed in different directions. Their job is to locate ticketless travelers, irregular travelers (those traveling in the wrong compartment) and passengers carrying ‘unlawful’ goods secretly and fine them.
“It is a challenging job. We travel as far as Vikarabad or Bhongir everyday and encounter all kinds of passengers. Though most defaulters readily pay fines when caught, some do not comply easily . In such cases, we enlist the assistance of RPF personnel who travel with us,” says 40-year-old K Nandini, who has been a squad member in the Secunderabad division for a decade.
Squad batches are assigned trains for surprise checks on a daily basis and members are instructed to board at various locations. Sometimes members of Tejaswini also travel with members of other squads in motor vehicles following trains on routes where ticketless travel is known to be rampant. The personnel halt the train to conduct thorough checks.
“We do encounter a few rude passengers but with the assistance of co-passengers we ensure compliance. Our job is not just to fine an erring traveller but also to counsel the person to prevent repeated violations,” says K Swapana, who has also been serving in the Secunderabad squad for 10 years.
About 57,000 cases were booked by the squads in 2013, a slight increase over 2012, and 10% of all cases booked by exclusive squads last year in the three divisions. In Secunderabad alone, the squad comprising 14 women booked 2,783 cases and collected Rs 12.6 lakh in April this year.
The first squad was formed in Vijayawada in 2001 to handle women passengers. In the Secunderbad divison, the squad was created in 2003, while the Guntur squad was created last year. In all, there are 35 women in the three squads. “Tejaswini was created to handle women passengers but today our role has expanded to covering all passengers on a train,” adds Nandini.