Improvement suggestions for Indian Railways

Hon’ble Shri Suresh Prabhu Saheb,
Minister Of Railways,
Govt Of India.

First of all, I thank you for bringing a great positive change in Indian railways through a lot of initiatives to improve cleanliness, quality and level of services. This great effort on your part is really praiseworthy. Here are some suggestions for more improvement for consideration during your forthcoming railway budget or maybe before that.

(1) Remove first class in long-distance or Intercity trains.. It is that English legacy which has lost its meaning. The fare is illogically higher than AC and facilities are worse.

(2) Public announcement systems in railway platforms are painful to tolerate. They are inconsistent, unclear, unfriendly or irritating. Most of the time, they fail to deliver on the intended purpose. A major overhaul is required. A very thorough training is required. Standardize speech, volume and equipment involved in the public announcement process.

(3) Make tracking of cancelled tickets or vacant tickets due to unreported passengers transparent. Currently, in the chart system, the TCs have too much of clout and discretion to allocate empty seats out-of-turn to those who grease their palms. They have milked the railways and customers for years and must be stopped firmly. Some handheld devices connected with the central reservation system must track “no shows” and allocate onboard to the legitimate waiting passengers. The entire process must be IRCTC site based, to avoid malpractices.

(4) Don’t put the same TCs on the same trains for more than few days. All Intercity trains are notorious for the “setting” between TCs and regular passengers. There is a practice of no need to buy any ticket and still travel like a royalty, by paying some smaller amount to the regular, friendly TCs. You can get this confirmed by checking trains like 12935/12936 or 12009/12010 ANY day. This is also going on in many other trains.

(5) The practice of preparing chart at 8 pm for train leaving at 7 am the next day, leaves no option for the waiting list passengers to cancel their card tickets. Provide some mechanism to cancel card tickets online.

(6) Remove Sleeper class. It is meaningless, created only for harassing all. Merge it with Second class.

(7) Put heavy penalty for getting into reserved coaches without legitimate reserved tickets. Season ticket holders enter the reserved Sleeper coaches in large numbers and hold the legitimate passengers including families at ransom and helpless. You can see this unsavory drama everyday in any train which enters Mumbai in the morning or leaves from Mumbai in the evening. Very humble request to eradicate this nuisance forever. Also, make some helpline available where such occurrences can be reported and acted upon swiftly and during the journey itself.

(8) In many cases, TCs allow such unreserved passengers by collecting some unofficial money from each one of them. Please stop this. One option is putting cameras in each coach tracking passage areas and TCs transactions.

(9) Appoint agencies to collect fine from people spitting or making railway property dirty. Majority of the people in this country lack civic sense. They can learn the lessons by penalty only. Once they pay up, they will be deterred to repeat it. Painting slogans on railway walls will not stop this nuisance. People spit on those same slogans. Put a dedicated manpower to collect fines from people. It will really be a blessing for all.

(10) Cleanliness has improved on platforms noticeably. Thank you very much. It must continue. Similar level must be maintained in toilets in stations and waiting rooms which stink very badly.

(11) Toilets inside the coaches need complete overhaul in terms of cleaning and maintenance. Find an agency who can do this if railway employees can’t do it properly.

(12) The coach position indicators on platforms for long distance trains are a blessing. Thank you. But, when they don’t function, the hell breaks for passengers.  Also, abrupt and last-minute changes of platforms for long distance trains is another problem which harasses the passengers immensely. In most of the cases, the public announcement systems at such times make a mockery of the situation by informing the same through the timing, tone, volume, speed and clarity of message which is horrible at best. Try that such occurrences are avoided.

(13) Provide some method for large group bookings. Currently, the booking of special coaches is very unfriendly and unreliable. Also, the method of group travel must be more flexible about the names of travelling passengers. They should be allowed to provide the same a week or so before travel. How can a group of 200 people book before 120 days and remain completely unchanged? Current process makes it very difficult for groups and gives a lot of manipulative powers to TCs. Facilitating group travel can open up a lot of opportunities for citizens as well as for the railways.

(14) The height of steps on staircases to railway bridges must be standard across the country. Currently, it varies at every staircase. For example, check two sides of staircases leading to the north side Malad bridge on Platforms 2-3.

(15) The indicative numbers near the coach doors showing the direction of seat numbers (1->72 or 72->1) are wrong in most of the cases. It creates a lot of inconvenience and confusion. Some responsible and sensible attention can prevent all this hassle.

(16) The current restriction of limiting maximum 10 tickets per month on IRCTC web site is very inconvenient to frequent travelers like me who have to book more than 10 tickets per month for themselves. Please find a solution to identify tickets booked for “self” by the registrant and exempt such tickets from the monthly ticket restrictions.

Suggestions for Mumbai local trains:

(1) Local stations in Mumbai are free properties for all encroachers and anti social elements during non-office hours. Make sure that they are not taken over by such elements in the early mornings or evenings.

(2) Indicators on local train platforms in Mumbai must be made more reliable. Please make sure that they don’t stop functioning frequently and they show realistic time of next train arrival.

(3) The visible differentiation of interiors in first class coaches in local trains is missing. People get in by mistake because it looks almost same. At least use some different color if nothing else. Also, the partition between first class-second class and between ladies-gents coaches must not be see-through. There are frequent, avoidable altercations between the two side parties because of the easy access. The current status encourages onlooking and peeping.

(4) The latest method of allowing all local, express and season tickets from same windows is very ineffective because the staff takes a lot of time due to different methods of processing different requests. Due to this, the size of queues is increasing everywhere. Sometimes, we have to spend 25 minutes waiting for getting a ticket for a 4-minute travel even though we were fifth in the queue. Local train tickets must be processed quickly and separately.

(5) Ticket vending machines are a big blessing. Thank you again. Please make sure that they proliferate and are kept operational all the time without frequent breakdowns just like most other public utility equipment.

(6) The height of platforms at different local railway stations varies. Same is the distance between the train and the platform, which is dangerous at many stations. Please try to make them uniform and safe.

(7) Mumbai Metro has maintained its cleanliness and quality of service even after about 18 months of operations because they have people present always ensuring all this. Indian railways has a lot of manpower. Put them to proper use and make them present to ensure safety and cleanliness all the time.

Author: Sanjay Shah

Sanjay is the author of "Business Management Simplified" which provides Practical, Actionable Solutions for Entrepreneurs. It is an all-in-one guidebook to start, run and grow a small and mid-size business to the next level. He is also an SME Business Coach, Seminar Leader and Motivational/Keynote speaker, Sanjay is based in Mumbai (India). He advises many businesses on Strategy, Leadership, Marketing, Branding, Customer Experience Management and Organization Development. He conducts various self-help seminars and workshops for companies and groups in English, Hindi and Gujarati. For more info, visit : www.SanjayShahSeminar.com

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