THE world of railways is a world in itself. Any child who is not fascinated by the whistle of the guard, his red and green flags, the hoot of the engine, the engine driver proudly leaning out of his window, smoke billowing out from the engine, can be said to have lost his childhood. There cannot be any young man who has not looked at his reflection in the window of a train bogey or any adult who hasn’t turned thoughtful on seeing railway tracks vanish into the horizon.
The world of railways is an independent universe of various intentions, personalities, objects, houses, uniforms, guards, engineers, ticket-checkers, coal-feeders, gang men, point men, cabin men, porters and unexpected calls of “Bhilawadi or Takan station name-boards that no one can read in a drizzle or the dim light of cubical lanterns…”
Today the Indian Railways and the Indian public are inseparable. Gandhiji travelled exclusively by III class for he was convinced that that was where one could well see the true India and the common man and exchange views. The Indian Railways, carrying around 170 lakh passengers and over 20 lakh tonnes of freight daily, constitutes the lifeline of India. In spite of the above relationship between passengers and the Railways, the passenger traffic has proved a loss-making proposition.
Here the author conveys an important piece of information that a train halts before or after a bridge but never on the bridge, because if it halts repeatedly on a bridge, the bridge would collapse.
The reason for the Railways heading for bankruptcy “lay in the neglect of freight traffic and the losses incurred in passenger traffic. In four years, these losses have been reduced,” claims the author.
(Ameya Prakashan, 207 Business Guild, Law College Road, Pune-411004.)