Indian Railway Ministry has gone into the damage-control mode. The ministry has ordered its top officials to do away with their executive class travel and start using the sleeper and AC 3-tier classes to get a better insight into the problems faced by ordinary passengers. This comes after the increasing criticism Indian Railways has been subjected to, in the past few months. Senior railway officials usually travel in luxurious compartments which makes them oblivious to the struggles of passengers of the general class.
The move is supposed to facilitate better hygiene, cleanliness and passenger safety on stations and trains. With several train derailments, a recent CAG report that highlighted the poor quality of food being served in trains and the stampede at Elphinstone Station in Mumbai led to this movie. The stampede at Elphinstone station claimed 22 lives and left many injured. On the other hand, the CAG report claimed that the food being served was unfit for consumption. The issue of passenger safety keeps popping up time and again. Harassment of female passengers and unauthorized entry of people in reserved coaches is not new. Poor sanitation facilities in trains, comprising of stinking toilets and dirty linen have been a subject of discomfort for passengers for a long time now.
The railway ministry has decided that from each of the 50 divisions, senior officers including members of the railway board, general managers of railway zones and divisional railway managers (DRMs), will undertake long journeys in sleeper classes and AC 3-tier to get the first-hand experience of the services and analyze the problems.Anil Saxena, director general (PR), Indian Railways told Mail Today,
"It has been decided that the board members, general managers and DRMs will undertake journeys in the sleeper and third AC classes to take stock of the condition of coaches. At the same time, services like cleanliness and catering will also be assessed"
Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani, on the other hand, has asked his officers to give up luxuries and unnecessary protocols and work as a team.Will Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s move work in favour of the passengers? Only time will tell.