Intro: Indian Railways has been the most preferred and convenient mode of transport for the common man. As a frequent rail passenger for over a decade I wish to share the apparently trivial problems faced by the common passengers which make their rail journey cumbersome.
The government might be working on introducing bullet trains which is appreciable but the common man wants immediate improvement in the existing railways services. As a frequent rail passenger for all classes for more than a decade, I have noticed that just slight more involvement on the part of rail authorities and the government can make the journey of lakhs of passengers easier and more comfortable. It will also generate sympathy towards the railways. Since the prime objective of the railways is public comfort, it has to serve better. Therefore, I wish to bring some discrepancies to the notice of the authorities concerned.
Old Bedrolls in New Packets
The bedrolls provided in trains are mostly used. The old bedroll is packed in new packets. It is common in third AC coaches. Similarly, napkin is provided mostly on request. The pump of the glass doors in AC coaches is mostly found out of order. I have many photos of such damaged doors. Because of it the AC fails to cool the coach during summers. During winters too it troubles a lot. Those who get the seat near the door curse their fate during the whole journey due to repeated discomfort.
The toilet doors are many times damaged. In most cases the door knob and mug are found missing in the toilet. The soap is hardly found. The condition is not better even in AC coaches and Rajdhani trains. I have seen many times that the main door of the coach does not close from inside. Unavailability of water in washbasin is another problem. It is same in both sides of the coach. If questioned, every time the answer is same—it is because of ‘air’. As a result the passengers have to run from one coach to another for water. The male passengers can go in any coach, but the women, children and old age people have to face lot of hardships. Moving from one coach to another is not good for their safety also. The bulb in the bathroom is mostly found missing. The same condition is with cleanliness. Hardly the coaches are clean. Food packets, garbage, used bottles, etc are found in every coach. Sometimes the entire journey concludes in garbage and foul smell. Charging higher prices and providing low quantity of eatable items is routine inside the coaches. The Railways has fixed the quantity of tea or soup to 170 ml. But only 140 ml cup is used. The tea which is given is also 20 to 30 ml less. If one asks for complaint book, the staff is found ready to fight. Sometimes, for a cutlet, which costs Rs 17, Rs 29 are charged. If somebody presses for a bill they return the access amount. Those who are unaware of it pay higher prices.
Phone Charging Points
Mobile phone is an essential thing today and almost all passengers carry it while travelling. A large number of passengers carry the smart phone. Since smart phones consume more battery every passenger wants charging facility in the train. But this facility is not available in majority of the trains. In sleeper coaches, it is hardly found. If some trains have it, it is near the doors, which causes crowding there, accident and discomfort to other passengers. In general class it is not available at all. This facility should be made available in all the trains and classes.
The situation is that if one travels even in second AC, one does not find the charging point at lower side berth. Forget, charging point, one does not have even fan and light switches there. These points are provided only on the side where there are four or six berths. Therefore, the passengers of the side berth have to disturb the passengers of the opposite side. The situation is same in Rajdhani trains too. Sometimes the switches are found damaged. Once the switches in rails used to be of top quality. Why can’t they be better now? All sockets should be of three pins. The passengers of both upper and lower side berths should be provided with separate switches as they also pay the equal fare.
Coach Display Boards
The numbers of coaches should be displayed before the train reaches platform. Many times the facility is not available even for Rajdhani trains. A few months back I boarded Rajdhani from New Delhi station. I found the facility was not available at platform number eight and nine. However, the other platforms had it. But at other platform also it was noticed that the number displayed was not found on the train coaches. If a train has two minutes stop, it is stampede like situation.
It also causes accident. In this situation the trouble faced by old people can be imagined. Sometimes the coach numbers are displayed in reverse order. A display board costs around Rs 10,000, which the Railways can easily afford. Need of the hour is that display boards should be installed at all stations whether small or big and they should properly be used. It will not only make the journey stress-free but also help in maintaining discipline on the platform.
Railways always discourages the people coming to drop passengers. Not a bad idea. People also want it. But has the Railways ever thought how an old man or sick person would carry the luggage to the platform? Today a passenger has to go up and down 45 stairs at platform. It is difficult for an old person carrying luggage. That is why one has to drop such people at platform. If we have ramps at both sides of the platforms the trouble will be less. One will be able to at least pull the trolley bag or suitcase. This facility should be provided at all platforms and on both sides of the stairs. Funds for it should be provided in the budget itself. At some platforms there are escalators but they are mostly found closed at night. It has been witnessed even in Delhi, New Delhi and Hazrat Nizamuddin stations. Therefore instead of depending upon escalators there should be ramps also.
Name of Platform in Big Letters
Another important suggestion is that the name of the platform should clearly be visible whenever the passenger looks outside at any station. Today this facility is not available even at the big stations. The name of the platform should be visible in big letters so that those who have any problem in vision can also see them easily. It is very useful at night. The name should first be in Hindi, then in regional language and then in English. It would be better if the name of the State is also provided with the name of the station. This will help the passengers to know in which State they are travelling. Every rail division should do it in their respective divisions. Apart from it there should be proper lighting on such signboards.
Once, I was travelling by Dayodaya Express from Kota to Jaipur. While getting down in Jaipur, the train started moving even before I could collect my luggage. I pulled the chain, but the train did not stop. Finally, I had to jump from the moving train and I met with an accident. I fractured my left hand. I feel Railways is also equally responsible for it. If the train had stopped on pulling the chain, I would not have met the accident. This system too should be improved.
Fare in Round Figure Only
When we purchase tickets through websites we find the fare in paisa, e.g. Rs 47.24 Paisa. Do the Railways have paisa of such denomination? In such conditions, the agents charge full rupee. If one sells 500 tickets in a day he easily makes Rs 500 from the passengers illegally. I suggest such transactions should be in round figures.
Chaos for Platform Tickets
Railways want that people coming to receive or drop the passengers must purchase platform tickets. But it never thought of providing platform tickets easily. One has to join the main ticket line for purchasing a platform ticket. It creates trouble not only to other passengers but also to those seeking platform tickets. This is the reason many times they prefer not to purchase the ticket. If the railways provide platform ticket vending machines on every station providing tickets on dropping five rupee coin, the problem would be resolved to a great extent. If there are no such machines the railways can provide agencies to the needy people like differently-abled or widows on commission basis. If the tickets are easily available, people will readily purchase. In Mumbai, the passengers have slips of general tickets. They punch it when they travel. This system can be introduced for platform tickets. If the general ticket also is sold through websites, it will increase the rail revenue.
The railway website should be upgraded so that it bears the burden of heavy traffic. Since there is no difference in side-berths of both third and second AC, the fare of the second AC should be equal to third AC for side berth seats. I have mentioned here only what I experienced. These are just suggestions to improve the rail service. For that the people and the government should accept the rationalised fare structure that can provide upgraded facilities.