In a much-needed relief to the physically-challenged persons availing concessional rail fares, Indian Railways has rationalised provisions for allotment of berths in a sleeper class under such quota by earmarking middle seat for the accompanying passenger.
As per the revised provisions, which are to come into effect from December 22, there will be two types of physically-challenged quota of two berths each — one lower and one middle — in the same cabin.
One will be for physically challenged persons who can utilise concession only when accompanied by an escort and the second for those for whom it is optional to take an escort with them, Railways announced in a release today.
It has also been decided that whenever a physically handicapped person books ticket on concession and if no berth is available in handicapped quota, the system will automatically try to allot the lower berth to the travelling passenger and middle berth to escort, subject to availability of same at the time of booking, the release said.
These changes were necessitated following some cases of the handicapped persons for whom it is optional to take an escort were not allowed to book single berth against this quota on the ground that the second berth will go vacant (as middle berth cannot be allotted to physically handicapped persons) was brought to the notice of the Railway Ministry, it said.
This issue has now been examined by the Ministry of Railways and further rationalisation has been done to ensure optimum allotment and utilisation of handicapped quota, the release said.
According to Railways, the berths for the physically handicapped persons, who can utilise concession only when accompanied by an escort, can be booked on first come first serve basis.
Similarly, for those handicapped persons having option of taking an escort, the berths will be booked together (in the same cabin), it said.
The release also said that at the time of preparation of reservation charts, the untiled lower berths under this quota can be released to physically handicapped passenger(of either category who were kept in general waiting list due to exhaustion of their quota), single senior citizen travelling alone on priority or to waitlisted passengers as per priority.