Chennai: A few decades ago, passengers would get their tickets in the form of small rectangular cardboards. These were printed at Railway’s own printing presses, one of which is located in Royapuram on the Ebrahim Sahib street. In the near future, this chapter of Railway’s history is likely to end as the nearly 100-year-old institution will be shifted to a new location as per the Railway Board’s instructions.
In the pre-digitisation era, the railway presses served the organisation’s in-house needs for printing tickets, books, stationery, etc. Royapuram is one of only five-odd railway presses across the country. It catered to railway zones in the southern region. Currently, it is spread over a few acres of land beside the station and has a staff of 150.
However, with Central government taking to digitisation in a big way, senior railway officials say that presses will be eased out.
With the advent of e-ticketing, less than 30% of railway passengers book paper tickets (at reservation counters) and the number is dwindling further.
Currently, the press, controlled by the Stores department, is only used to print paper tickets, files and railway reservation forms which are distributed at counters. All other printing material, including the yearly timetable is printed in other presses.
The Board, in its communication dated October 25, stated that the relocation of the Royapuram press is under consideration and has indicated that Group C and D staff would be redeployed. The existing printing machines would be relocated to some other location, while the tickets would be printed at the nearby government printing presses. Sources say that the parcel of land would be given to Chennai Port Trust as part of a land exchange agreement.
This move has been opposed by employees’ union. On Saturday, the Southern Railway Employees Sangh (SRES) protested against the move. “This is a move to benefit the private contractors,” said SRES general secretary Suryaprakasam.
A senior railway official said the press had failed to catch up with the times as far as quality was concerned, but it could still be retained over a smaller area as it had historical significance.
Former Railway Board member Abraham Jacob said the labour and machinery in the press was a drag on the railway system as it wasn’t producing any ‘decent’ work.
Source:- Times of India