Just yesterday, I was standing at the Railway Station in the night all alone, waiting for my dad to pick me up. It was really a scary place not because it was late in night but because of the creepy looks of the people at the station, also it was raining heavily and it was so silent all around that I could even hear the noise of raindrops falling. Ignoring all this, I was lost in a very deep argument. I could feel something cold running up my swine as my mind came near to the solution but then again I was lost in another argument on how we can implement this solution?
Yesterday, I planned to take a new route to Delhi from Patiala. I decide to board Ludhiana-New Delhi Shatabdhi from Sangrur, which was expected to reach Delhi at 09:45PM. But it got late by two hours and for those two hours I had to wait at the Sangrur Station and trust me it was not at all very good place to spend time.
The problem, I am talking about is the Inefficiency of Indian Railways. Though I have travelled quite a lot in the railways but this experience made me regret my choice. Indian Railways always enjoyed a respectable position in my mind. As it is one of the world’s largest railway networks comprising 115,000 km of track and 7,500 stations, IR carries about 7,500 million passengers annually or more than 20 million passengers daily. Also it is the world’s fourth largest commercial or utility employer, by number of employees, with over 1.4 million employees and around 9000 engineers. By statistics, anyone would say great about the Railways.
But I believe the real parameter for judging any organisation is not the statistics but the services it provides, its credibility, ease & safety for its users and its adaption with the technology.
And in many of these parameters when you judge IR, it fails very badly. I will talk about each of these problems and then the common necessary solution that I feel should be implemented as soon as possible.
IR provides and maintains a good lot of services and policies for the users, like Tatkal Scheme, Reservation, Online platforms etc. Tatkal Scheme which gets renewed every three months gets worse every time. The whole system of reservation lies in the hands of Agents or Touts and because of this Passengers have to pay a lot more than it is required. IR’s online ticketing portal http://www.irctc.co.in, is a bigger failure, getting past every step for booking a ticket, is a big achievement. Also the session can get timed out any time plus the probability that you will see this message, ‘Service is unavailable’ is quite high.
Recently I read in an article that IR was earning in crores just from the cancelled tickets. Generally they book tickets in waiting list till hundreds when they know usually only the first hundred will get confirmed. Northern Railways only earned 33 crores through cancelled tickets. This shows the immoral attitude of IR towards its consumers.
According to Forbes, IR is one of the most unreliable in the world leaving behind many African and Asian countries which are less technologically advanced than us. In India, most of the railways accidents occur due to the human mistakes or technical faults. Recently around 2.5 million was allocated to revolutionize the railway safety technologies but nothing big has been done. Next time, please have a better reason to travel with IR.
Also IR is not at all disabled friendly and the railway journey for a disabled person in India is nothing short of a nightmare. Recently IR clarified its stand on this issue by leaving the job positions reserved for disabled persons vacant!
In spite of India having the third largest pool of technocrats, engineers and scientists, IR still lags at least 20 years in railway technology. People in China, Japan, Germany, travel in High speed modern trains which have highest speed of 300kmph whereas in India we have Shatabdhi & Rajdhani which have highest speed of just 130kmph. Also we lag behind in developing our railway stations to the world class standards.
We need a solution that will overhaul the Indian Railways and make it a par with other railway services in the world.
From my view point, the actual problem is the Politics that is associated with the railways. As it is directly controlled by Minister of Railways, it has a lot of political intervention in its activities and policy making. We need Indian Railways to be free from any ministry and to enjoy independence as DMRC enjoys.
We need to depoliticise Indian Railways and that is the only solution I can see.