Wrote on 01 March 2016
What The Railway Minister Needs To Do
To enhance passenger traffic and collections, railways should ensure that bonafide reserved passengers are actually able to travel peacefully in reserved coaches without intrusion and encroachment by local crowd particularly in the morning and evening hours, near cities like Ernakulam, Chennai and many others. During evening hours on working days unreserved, daily / monthly pass holders and ticketless passengers travelling short distances, storm into the reserved coaches not even allowing reserved passengers to occupy their allotted seats due to the crowd. This also leads to nefarious activities such as theft, pick pocketing, harassment of women, selling drugs and so on, During these times TTEs conveniently avoid these coaches for fear of manhandling by the unruly crowd and inability to serve the reserved passengers. What is the Railways doing on this? Is this democracy, serving the poor and underprivileged, socialism, goondaism or sheer administrative incompetence or callousness. Why will a sensible passenger pay the Railways for this? Even honest passengers will learn from this to travel without tickets. Are we saying we cannot enforce rule of law in our country?
If they can tame the unruly rouge elements misusing railway property and railway facilities, railways will be able to attract more self-respecting honest passengers, enhance collections, prevent damage to property, provide more clean and comfortable travel experience, improve overall railway performance and enhance image of our country among foreigners who also experience the same and watch the goings on.
Providing baby food and ala carta, (in flight or in train) entertainment is not an attraction for people to travel by train. Passengers just need the basic hygiene factors to be taken care: clean toilets, usable fittings that are not broken, taps from which one can expect the water to flow after using the toilet without embarrassment, toilet doors that really close and not open when one is using it, coaches that are free of dust and dirt, windows that open and close freely without needing a hammer to operate them or hurting your fingers, power sockets that are not broken and carrying real power supply, berths that are not torn and sewn together, berths that are lockable when not in use without fear of falling down and hurting someone, A/C coach window glasses that are kept clean free of dust and dirt, and are really transparent, doors of the coach that move free and are really lockable, dust bins that are clean and cleared, noise control inside the moving coach.... they don’t need any frills like entertainment when the moving train makes so much noise. The noise generated itself is so soothing that one feels out of place after the journey.
I would like to ask the Minister one question: why is it that trains that are assigned to routes in the south such as Kerala are all rattling, condemned, in bad condition and even unsafe, fittings don’t perform as expected.... while those plying the Delhi Chandigarh and such high profile routes are all brand new, maintained well, produce less noise and felt to be safe. Will the railway minister stop this discrimination when railways charge same per km fare for north and south, and more so people in south are more law abiding, buy tickets, pay for their travel, do less of damage to railway property.
I wish Railways conduct an audit of profitability and quality of rail travel in the different regions ( I am sure they do it but findings are kept under wraps for fear of repercussions?), publish the results and take prudent rational decisions on allocation of funds, resources and services. Allocation should not be based on who shouts louder, flexes muscles and indulge in unruly intimidatory uncivilised behaviour inside and outside parliament, but on prudent analysis of potential and performance. Is this not a surreptitious subsidising of the comfort of the people in the north by the suffering people in the south? Why is it that the more civilized southerners are at the receiving end always? Is civilized behaviour out of place in our land?