IRIndian Railways is biggest network but nowhere near best

Traveling in a train in India is like a punishment irrespective of distance you cover, class of train you travel in, right from general to AC coaches, the experience at railway stations, facilities provided, the rush you face for arrangement of tickets or sleeper berths. Poor catering facilities, unauthorized passengers, stinking toilets, unclean platforms, no facility of drinking water on most railway stations, no proper security arrangements, no medical facilities, no proper catering services, too many venders most of them unauthorized selling inferior items. 

Protection forces involved in activities which do not create a sense of security or confidence but rude behavior and their activities only add to passengers’ problems as they look only like foes rather than helpers. The protection forces and railway employees meant for serving and helping passengers never perform their duties properly but behave with passengers as if they are obliging them for letting them sit in a train. And, we face all this despite we are known to be one of the biggest railway’s networks in the world bringing most revenue to national exchequer. 

Ten biggest problems a passenger faces

There are countless problems for a passenger traveling by a train in India beginning as soon as one enters into a railway station. The problems increase if you happen to be  traveling on a general ticket as there are too few general compartments in long distance trains and even those few compartments are not available for helpless passengers if one is not ready to compromise with porters, railway staff. Look at some other problems which you face while traveling in a train.

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1- Unclean and unhygienic- Most trains short or long distance, ordinary passenger trains or super-fast services, barring selected few have no arrangements of proper cleaning. The stinking toilets of trains make it impossible to use these but also make it difficult to travel because the fowl smell makes the travel a horrible experience and this is common for all classes of trains 

2- Unauthorized venders – You can find them everywhere right from entrance of railway stations to main platforms of stations, inside the running trains, general bogies or AC coaches, day or night. You can hear them selling tea & coffee at 2am in sleeper coaches as if you are not there for sleeping purpose but to keep awake with the help of drinks they are brewing for you. And the height of irony is that railway staff and protection forces are supporting them while you try to protest.

3- Dirty linen - it is in its literary sense, most blankets and bed sheets, towels, pillow covers are stained, and stinking provided in AC coaches, which you use, as there is no alternative. Most coaches have no proper storage space in  sleeper trains but the packets of blankets and other clothing are stored near the stinking toilets or even in toilets some times. Imagine the problems of sufferings of the passengers when they have to use such stinking clothes. There is one popular saying among Indian travelers especially in Hindi speaking belts ‘ Suffer is suffering’ (In Hindi suffer means traveling). There is no use making complaints of such poor clothes and service provided as you might face the dirty or rude behavior of attendants or service staff.

4- Theft is common problem- As there is no stoppage for outsiders to enter into coaches of any class the bad characters take full advantage of the situation and your luggage is always at risk of being stolen. In most cases, you never recover your luggage and railway police mostly behaves in rude way, never registering your complaints or making it a mere formality with no intention to recover your lost property. People generally believe that police and protection forces are in association with thieves. 

5- Passengers do not care for others- Most passengers have no civic sense that make the travel even more difficult by their habits of spilling garbage, spitting frequently eating different tobacco products, spilling water, allowing children to urinate or ease bowl without caring for other passengers. 

6- Passengers talking loudly - While on mobile phones at night are a favorite pass time for many of so-called cultured and educated persons traveling in trains. 

7- Enquiry counters- An enquiry counter is a place on a railway station where you queue up to learn many new experiences but your queries never get an answer as in most cases either there is no one attending the counter. Or if you are lucky enough and there is one sitting at the counter, he is either  talking to his coworkers or busy on his personal phone to have spare time to attend you.

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8- AVTM Machines- Most people who own a smartcard feel cheated as the machine almost always remains out of order and even if it works, it is almost impossible to use it in the crowd that gathers around it.

9- No Time table- There is nothing like fixed time or scheduled running for Indian trains apart from a few selected ones. As against the standards set for late running throughout the world, we do not seem to care much about timetables. As they think if we had our trains running at scheduled timings there was no need of waiting rooms, what I feel is, to take full advantage of waiting rooms they delay their trains. On a serious note, we do not mind trains running late by an hour or two and no one cares much.

10-  No pantry services available- In most trains running for medium or even long distances they do not provide pantry car in the train but in most cases they arrange food from out side or the services provided by unauthorized venders who provide inferior quality and overcharge passengers as per their own sweet will. The trains having facility of dining car/pantry services have lot to be desired as their services are not up to satisfactory level or too poor in quality, overcharged and not hygienic.  

Conclusion

Although we are officially biggest railway network in the world with most employees and most passengers, we have lot to be desired. Indian railways network, which carries almost 30 million passengers, almost 30 lacs tones of freight transportation including coal, grains and petroleum products every day, almost 1,20,000 Km of railway track, more than 7500 railway stations. The Indian railway is also among the world’s top commercial setup, which has more than 15 lacs regular employees plus millions depending upon it. We need to a lot to improve our overall services including passenger safety, convenience and running on time. 


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