In a bid to put an end to those unnecessary quarrels that break out due to oversleeping passengers on different berths, the Railways has decided to reduce the official sleeping hours in its trains by an hour.
A circular issued by the railway board, the passengers in the reserved coaches can only sleep between 10 pm and 6 am to allow others to sit on the seats for the rest of the time. Earlier, passengers had the option of sleeping at 9 pm if they wished to.
"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.
"Passengers are, however, requested to cooperate with the sick, persons with disability, and pregnant ladies in case they want to sleep beyond permissible limits," it says.
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," said ministry spokesperson Anil Saxena.
"This is done to ensure that passengers who have bookings under RAC status will have a place to sit for a little while longer, he said.
Another railway official said the sleeping time was reduced by an hour because there were times when passengers went to sleep as soon as they boarded the train day or night leaving the co-travellers on the upper and middle berths high and dry.
Officials said that the problem is more acute for 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.
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.