The circular, however, makes an exception for certain passengers.(Representative Image, Wikipedia) Photograph:( Others )
The Railways is trying to put an end to those tiresome quarrels that break out due to oversleeping passengers on the middle and lower berths by reducing official sleeping hours
In a bid to avoid arguments between irate passengers on the middle and lower berths, the Indian Railways has reduced the official sleeping hours by an hour.
A circular issued by the railways board stated that passengers in the reserved coaches can only sleep between 10 pm and 6 am and should allow others to sit on the lower berth seats for the rest of the time.
Before the circular was issued, the permissible time for sleeping was between 9 pm and 6 am.
"Sleeping accommodation between 2200 hours and 0600 hours and sitting accommodation for the rest of the period is provided for the passengers in the reserved coaches having sleeping accommodation," said the circular, dated August 31.
The circular, however, makes certain exceptions and asks passengers to co-operate with those who are sick, have a disability, or are pregnant "in case they want to sleep beyond permissible limits."
The new provision replaces paragraph 652 in the Indian Railways Commercial Manual, Volume I, which provides for sleeping accommodation between 9 pm and 6 am.
"We had received feedback from officials regarding issues between passengers over sleeping arrangements. We already have a rule in place. However, we wanted to clarify it and ensure it is followed," Railway ministry spokesperson Anil Saxena said.
This provision applies to all reserved coaches with sleeping accommodation, he said.
Another railway official said another reason was that passengers went to sleep as soon as they boarded the train -- day or night -- inconveniencing their co-travellers on the upper and middle berths.
As per officials, problems also arise when passengers on the middle berths refuse to get up so that those on the lower berths could sit comfortably.
"It is a regular bone of contention among passengers.
Once, there was a passenger on the lower berth who slept all through the journey from Kolkata to Delhi, while the man on the upper berth had to remain there and others on the middle berth sat perched in one corner of the lower berth through the trip.
"All through the journey, they kept taking digs at the sleeping man and even poking him. This happens all the time on trains," said Sachin Singh, a businessman, who travels frequently between Delhi and Kolkata for meetings.
The problem is more acute in the case of side berths. The circular has clarified that a person booked on side upper berth will not have any claim of seat on the lower berth between 10 pm and 6 am.
Ministry officials said the new directive will help Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE) to resolve such disputes on board by preventing anyone from taking catnaps beyond the permissible time.