November 09, 2009

The origin of platform tickets

There was a time, back in the nineteenth century when a rule was in force allowing none other than journey ticket holders to step into a railway station. A sound method to prevent overcrowding, but the public could hardly be expected to find it a very convenient arrangement. The result was that a system involving the issue of ‘platform tickets’ was brought into use, allowing people to receive friends arriving by train, whilst at the same time making it difficult for street-corner loungers to use the platform as a place for idle amusement and gossip:
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ONE OF THE GRIEVANCES of the Indian public was that they were not entitled to come inside the railway premises to see off or to receive their relatives and friends who were coming/going by trains. Government of India in its letter No. 870 R.T. dated August 7, 1883 addressed to Bombay Government said: “At present, as a rule, only those natives who have railway tickets are admitted on to the platform, and it has been represented that considerable inconvenience is caused by the custom generally in force which prevents native gentlemen from being present on the platform to meet a friend or relative coming by train or to accompany him it on his departure. The Government of India fully recognized the necessity of preventing the undue crowding of railway platforms, but it is thought that the grievance complained of might be to a great extent remedied, without inconvenience to railway working, by the adoption, at the principal stations, of a system lately introduced by the Sind, Punjab & Delhi Railway at Lahore of issuing platform tickets at a small charge which might be fixed experimentally at one or two pice for each ticket.”
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A few months later doubts were raised as to the legal right of the Railway Authorities to issue such tickets. The issue was resolved by the Government of India vide its circular No. XXXVII – Railway, dated December 20, 1883 which said “… His Excellency, the Governor General in council is pleased to rule that, in future, when the Railway Authorities desire to exclude all but ticket holders from railway platforms, the intention shall be duly notified in the railway timetables, and a printed notice to that effect specifying the place where such tickets are obtainable and their cost, shall be drawn up with reference to Section 3 (c) and 41 of the Indian Railways Act No. IV of 1879 and pasted up in a conspicuous place outside the station.”
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It was believed that such a notice would be a sufficient ‘warning off’ to justify prevention of any person from entering a railway platform without a ticket.
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References: History of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (Part I, Vol. II), by S. N. Sharma, Retd. C.P.L.O., Central Railway.
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