Friday, October 05, 2012

Travelling in a train nowadays......uh-oh!!


Indian trains are the life lines of many people in the country. It is one of the simple ways for travelling long distances. It provides lots of opportunities to travel within states and reach your destination. The population of India is more than the availability of trains. But we have accepted the overcrowded trains with open arms, just as we have got accustomed to its deteriorating condition and sorry state.

Firstly when anyone books the ticket online, there are 99.99% chances that it will be a waiting list. One has to mandatorily wait for the Tatkal system to open up in the morning. Then only you can book the ticket successfully. While sitting inside the trains in sleeper class, one has to be as alert as a watch dog for their luggage. It has become a tradition to put a steel chain around all the luggage bags to keep it safe and bounded together. Then no one can steal them away easily. Normally a lower berth meant for three people can be occupied by a fourth passenger. A request of Can-I-sit-for-two-minutes can stretch for hours. Passengers without tickets stand comfortably wherever they get a chance, mostly around toilets and compartment doors.

Any late arrival or departure is very common nowadays. Nobody raises an eyebrow on that. Is the train late? No problem, sit on the station and wait. We have gotten used to that. Another notable feature is the pantry food. It does not need any introduction, does it? We are all familiar with the pantry man selling cutlets, biryani, curds, bread omelets and other tightly wrapped food items. But the conditions in which these foods are cooked have been well exposed by the electronic media in the past. The pathetic and filthy state of the pantry is enough for a person to start seriously considering going on a strict fast while travelling in a train. That would be much healthier.

The windows are meant for getting fresh air and scenery view of the outside world. But they are mostly used by thieves to steal golden chains or mangalsutra of the ladies. If a handbag or a purse is also kept near an open window at night, it’s a guarantee that it will not be there in the morning. Passengers hardly sleep soundly at night fearing for the safety of their luggage. In this matter, the AC coaches are better off. There the windows are permanently closed. There are no security guards or police in the trains. Not in every coaches any way. On any station, a thief can board the train and get off quickly after stealing inside. Who is there to stop him in the semi-darkness?

Once I travelled in Garibrath Express and met a few unusual companions-cockroaches! They were everywhere. The mere sight of them made ladies uncomfortable. Imagine if you are eating your lunch, sharing with your family, laughing together, enjoying the zooming past view outside the window and out pops a big cockroach from behind. They had made their permanent residences near the windows, below the berths and on the seats. I lost my appetite and made a mental note to never travel in that train again. Never ever!

Two-tier and three-tier AC coaches provide blankets that sometimes give off an awful smell.  White towels have yellow patches on them. One day when I enquired the coach attendant about the filthy condition of my blanket, he replied helplessly that those are the bed rolls available. Fresh from the laundry, he added.    Whenever I travel to my hometown, the train is always late so much that my relatives deliberately come late to receive me, knowing very well in advance by their experience that the train would be late. This has become a routine. The train is never going to be on schedule. That’s for sure. After all this is the Indian railways I am talking about. What else can I expect?

With the introduction of new railway budgets, promises are made to bring about a revolution in the government owned Indian Railways which is the fourth largest railway network in the world. Started in 1853, it has nearly 64,015 km of track and 6,090 stations. It is used by approximately 20 million passengers daily. The ticket prices have increased remarkably but sadly the facilities have remained the same. Poor management, lack of maintenance and accidents has affected the whole system.


   

       
  

24 comments:

  1. Yes, you have depicted the picture truly Snehal :)
    The railways have been and are still quite problematic. Not only the railways but even the people have to improve in order to get that smooth effect of travelling.
    Keep posting :)

    Regards,

    Jay
    http://road-to-sanitarium.blogspot.in/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I quite agree.
      Thank you for going through the post.

      Delete
  2. Nice read. That is the reality of the mighty Indian railways.

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

    ReplyDelete
  3. First off, credit where it is due - the services in the railways has improved a lot over the last two or three decades. Catering have at least become edible. Housekeeping ensures that you can visit the toilets. Punctuality is vastly improved. Reservation facilities have been made more transparent.

    Those are the observations of a person who has been using the railways for, well, several decades. Your post, however, captures the truth of how the consumer perceives the service in the present time. Given the technology available, there is no reason that coaches cannot be fumigated and pest-controlled to eliminate cockroaches. Since housekeeping is outsourced, there is no reason why better services cannot be provided. I think the problem is that most of these contracts are granted in exchange of "considerations," hence even the service provider doesnt care about the quality of service. On a recent trip, the housekeeping staff went about getting signatures of passengers with their berth numbers on a blank feedback form, targetting people who couldnt be bothered. The moment they came to me, they passed me by. I looked on to see if that was a pattern, and it was. They deliberately left out people who looked literate and assertive. It is sad that such a great service is abused in this way by its stakeholders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true. If the service providers start seriously providing quality services, it will give a new shape to the whole railway system.

      Thank you for reading the post.

      Delete
  4. I do agree with you on the above.but my recent travel in Duronto Express has actually made me change a bit about travelling in trains. Being nonstop and mostly
    puntual , it was a pleasant experience. The sheets werent so yellow in the first and second class AC coaches when I travelled. There is improvement but there is scope for more.

    Nice Read :)

    vevisia.blogspot.in

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your experience.

      Delete
  5. I think trains have improved a lot in last few year.. thanks to Laloo...as long as one knows what to expect I love traveling by trains... pls check the post below..

    http://www.desitraveler.com/2012/10/train-to-rajasthan.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for dropping by and sharing your views.

      Delete
  6. Hi Snehal

    Indian Railways is the largest rail network in the world and considering the number of trains plying across the country, the management is not all that bad. And over the years, services seem to be improving. Having said that, yes there is definitely a long way to go. But I have seen people also misusing railway property like tearing the seats, scribbling on the walls etc. Change is needed everywhere

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, change is indeed needed everywhere. Passengers should behave responsibly while utilizing the railway services. That will go a long way in helping the railway management as well.

      Thank you for sharing your opinion.

      Delete
  7. Well said Snehal-what irks me most in trains is the lack of sanitation in toilets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely agree!
      Thanks for dropping by.

      Delete
  8. You have described it very beautifully Snehal :)

    I also have encountered cockroaches & rats running around in the coach. And food & toilets should not be even talked about. :)

    But whatever we say or however we crib, in the end it is Indian railways which takes us to places.

    I do my bit to make the authorities aware of situations but it's a long way to go.

    Nisha - Le Monde-A Poetic Travail

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank for reading the post, Nisha.

      Delete
  9. A good post. As Subhrup Dasgupta commented, the system has improved a lot, may be on important routes, between cities.

    All the complaints you have narrated happens to all of us. But how many of us , ever wrote at least one Email complaint to the authorities? How many of us have asked the TT , for the complaint book, or had gone to the station, and registered our complaints. Many of us dont do that.

    It is necessary to question those in charge , to seek their accountability. It is not only the authorities who have to implement, we the public too need to register our displeasure. We need to raise these questions in various fora abundant on the internet. eg. Indiarailinfo.. indiamike etc..

    A lot needs to be done by us and the Railways.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nicely said. If passengers start bringing such things to the notice of the concerned authorities, things will definitely improve.

      Thank you for sharing your views.

      Delete
  10. by the way, u arent wrong about the booking online bit.. recently there was a news article - 75% of all ticket booking attempts via irctc failed ( bad connection, server lost etc ).. the loss to passengers was roughly 75 lakhs or so - that was tickets paid for but then connection goes down before confirmation so moneys gone from your netbanking/debit card

    the best part was that the spokesman for the irctc site was unapologetic as ever :S

    ReplyDelete
  11. Cheers!
    Great post! Very informative.
    Thanks for possibility to write on your website,
    it's great!
    I’m still hoping there will be more posts on this site.
    Thanks a lot!

    train travel to canada

    ReplyDelete
  12. indian railways is going through a good phase of change,they too are helpless because of the rising losses,and still new trains have been introduced making our travel safe and comfortable.
    we should not always complain sometimes things are not as easy as expressing things on blogs.change needs time and you will surely see the positive effects.
    and whatever it is travelling in indian railways is always a fun thing,no matter how much you hate it but you enjoy it at the same time..:)

    ReplyDelete