Travelling by train in India has always fascinated me. Perhaps there is no better way to see the sights and listen to the sounds, as different as they are every 100 or 200 km. In recent years, of course, my train travel has reduced. So, when I get a chance, I just love to sit back and soak in everything.
A month or so ago, on my way to Bangalore by the Lalbagh Express, I received a note from a Southern Railway employee listing the dos and don’ts of safe travel. The list, printed at the Southern Railway Printing Press in Royapuram, consists of 24 points. Some of them seem childish, such as ‘it is unsafe to stand near the doorway and stick out your hands and head in an attempt to look outside’. But travellers would do well to heed some of the instructions (I have edited them to make crisper):
- Beware of the ‘biscuit gang’ and do not accept food from unknown passengers. It is better you purchase your own food.
- Ensure your belongings are safe and avoid leaving your luggage and moving about. If you wish to go to the toilet, inform your co-passenger.
- Avoid sleeping close to windows while wearing gold ornaments; passengers on berths 1, 2, 7, 65, 68, 71 and 72 should be extra cautious (perhaps because these are at the end-sides of each coach).
- Inform the Railway Police or T.T.E immediately if you notice the movement of suspicious persons (an important point, but how many people do it?). Suspicious persons have been identified in the list as anyone moving up and down with a water bottle and no luggage, somebody standing near the open doorway, and anybody following you to the toilet at night.
- Be cautious of people who try to distract your attention (not easy to judge, is it?).
- Keep laptops and cell phones with you always.
- Chain-lock your suitcase and bag.
- Close windows and doors of coaches at night.
- Carry less cash; it is safer to use credit cards.
- Lodge complaint immediately with the Railway Protection Force or TTE or coach attendant if you find your luggage missing.
- Pull down window shutters when the trains tops at an unscheduled stop (perhaps this can be followed at night; then again, how many do?)
Some phone numbers in case of emergency:
- Control Room at the Office of the Southern Railway Police: (044) 28227200
- Control Room at Chennai Central: (044) 25355077
- Dy. Superintendent of Railway Police, Chennai Central: 98410 16804
- Dy. Superintendant of Railway Police, Chennai Egmore: (044) 28190392