Monday, April 21, 2008

Train Machine-Travel to the Future

HOWRAH(Times of India-Pinaki Das): Sixty-year-old Gopal Dey has a ticket to ride but nowhere to go. The tailor from Kadamtala in Howrah has a Kolkata-Jamshedpur train ticket — dated June 28, 2073.

Dey has Indian Railways in a fix. Taking advantage of a rule that once allowed passengers to buy advance tickets without any time limit, Dey booked a ride on the Tata Express as a practical joke in 1973. Of course, Dey never expected to use the ticket. He plans to hand over the ticket to his daughter and hopes his grandson can use it.

The railways does not know what to do with the ticket since the rule has been scrapped long ago.

It was a railway notification that sparked the idea. "It said passengers could reserve their seats without any time limit. I wondered, why not buy a ticket 100 years before the date of journey," said Dey.

On June 28, 1973, Dey queued up at a Howrah booking counter near the boro ghari (which no longer exists). The man at the counter rolled his eyes in disbelief when Dey asked for a ticket to travel 100 years later. "He thought I had lost it. I showed him the notification, but he didn't relent," recalled Dey.

Railway officials said it made no sense since he won't be able to use the ticket, but Dey didn't give in. "Since they had said passengers could book tickets for any date in advance, they were bound to issue the ticket," said Dey. After a day-long deliberation, the authorities relented and the ticket was issued. The fare? A princely Rs 9.75.

Dey has preserved it in a box in a bedroom cabinet. His neighbours know about his prized possession and people often come to see the unusual ticket.

"I never take it out of my house. I won't be able to travel with it, but my grandchild might. It will be a unique journey of which I, too, will be a part," Dey said.

Railway officials don't know what to do with the ticket. "We are supposed to maintain Dey's reservation record manually since computerization had not begun when he booked the ticket. It is indeed a unique case," said Samir Goswami, senior PRO of Eastern Railway.Read more items..

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