In a move to make rail travel more friendly and comfortable for elderly and differently-abled passengers, Indian railways has decided to introduce Yatri Mitra Sewa, which enables passengers to book wheelchair services cum porter services. Presently, IRCTC is providing e-wheelchair service, which facilitates rail passengers to book wheelchair at a nominated railway station.
A Yatri Mitra would be provided by IRCTC or service provider appointed by IRCTC. The Yatri Mitra will provide wheelchair cum porter services to differently-abled, ailing and old persons. Booking of the Yatri Mitra could be done online on IRCTC e-ticketing platform, calling or messaging 139 or by simply dialling a dedicated mobile phone number to be activated for this purpose. A mobile application developed by CRIS (Centre for Railways Information Systems) will also be made available for booking of Yatri Mitra as and when it is developed and released by CRIS.
While arrival, the Yatri Mitra would wait with wheelchair at the passenger’s coach and during departures Yatri Mitra would wait at the station’s designated entrance. Such provision is not available in e-wheelchair service as the wheelchair has to be collected from a designated collection centre.
IRCTC may provide this service ‘Free of cost’ through some NGOs, charitable trusts, PSUs, etc. under CSR. However, if this service can’t be provided ‘Free of Cost’, due to lack of response from NGO and others, IRCTC may arrange this service on payment basis through a service provider or on its own. IRCTC may also arrange these services through existing Battery Operated Car (BOC) operator, wherever, an agency is providing the service.
The service charges, if applicable, shall be kept reasonable and affordable, keeping in mind the objective of providing services to the needy. The service charges should be collected by the service provider directly from the passenger.
The service will be available at all major stations. Though the exact date from which this service would be provided is not available, IRCTC regional manager Kushal Chatterjee said that he could make it happen at Bhubaneshwar railway station after Dusshera.
This is an improvement to the current e-wheelchair service, as now the disabled or sick or elderly can travel independently. They would get all the help to board and depart the train, reach the platform, carry luggage, etc. from Yatri Mitra.