Kochi: It was with much aplomb that the Railways introduced buggies to help senior citizens and the physically challenged in the division.
Over two years down the lane, it seems the end of the road for these battery-operated cars, while other divisions still offer the services. The reason, its failure to redeploy them after the present operator opted out of the contract.
It all started when the Railways asked the operator to restrict the vehicle to the main platform and denial of permission “to cross tracks” as a safety measure.
The same has not gone down well with the private agency, the only one who came forward to operate the cars, which cited that passengers are mainly availing the service to reach from the station entrance to other platforms.
They withdrew the service from main stations like Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam first before discontinuing cars at small stations like Thrissur recently. Now the battery-car facility has stopped in all stations.
The railways wanted to redeploy buggies and even conveyed its willingness to soften its stance, but the agency showed no interest. “The real reason was that the services were not commercially viable despite charging Rs 30 for a single trip. They cited the restriction for opting out of the contract. We offered conditional permission to lift the restriction in smaller stations, but they backed out,” said a senior official.
“We wanted to restart the services as the same was helpful to passengers, especially women, elders, physically challenged, and those with heavy luggage. We’ve plans to make alternate arrangements.”...