Mangaluru: ‘Swachh Rail, Swachh Bharath’ -Doesn’t Seems like It’s Happening on Rajdhani Express

Spread the love

“We want to make Swachh Rail the driving force behind this Government’s flagship programme – Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Hence, we now work on-Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat” – Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu during Railway Budget 2015

Mangaluru: It’s like, ” What we preach, we don’t practice”! The above statement made by Union Railway minister Suresh Prabhu while delivering the Railway Budget 2015, does not seems like it is practiced on Indian trains, including the premium train ‘Rajdhani Express’. The only reason I prefer ‘Rajdhani Express’ when I travel once a month to Goa is because it is fully air-conditioned and fast- it reaches Margao-Goa from Mangaluru in 4 hours, while other trains take about 5-7 hours. Other than that, when it comes to other facilities provided on ‘Rajdhani Express’ is unsatisfactory for the price that you are paying- and when it comes to cleanliness it lacks miserably like other trains.

swachh_rail_mangalorean_20150324 swachh_rail_mangalorean_20150324-001 swachh_rail_mangalorean_20150324-002 swachh_rail_mangalorean_20150324-003 swachh_rail_mangalorean_20150324-004

One thing that seems unusual – for an “express” it makes quite a few stops. It is very easy to get any sleep with all the starting and stopping? Or does “express” mean “fast” . 1AC on the Rajdhani is a great way to travel if money’s no object!! If you get the coupe with only two beds you have lots of room and even the four bedded coupe is roomy enough!! All your meals are included as well as water and newspapers. Best of all there’s a shower in the toilet (shared). Be aware though that although you are paying the premium price for this journey you are still expected to share the coupe!!!! This train is the fastest between the two places and has priority over other trains which means few delays!!-that’s the only benefit other than that a travel by “Rajdhani Express” is not worth, that’s what I feel, but I am not sure about you all if you have ever travelled by “Rajdhani Express” train.

Rajdhani Express — These are fully air-conditioned super fast overnight trains, having only AC sleeper accommodation, that run between the National Capital (Delhi) and each state capital. The cleanliness tends to deteriorate over the duration of a journey, but on longer trips toilets are cleaned at intermediate stations. Washbasins are provided both inside and outside the toilets. Shower cubicles are available only on AC First carriages in these trains. But when it comes to service, cleanliness and coziness, I would grade it as “unsatisfactory” or on a given day of travel, may be I would grade it as “poor”. The only good thing about this train, it is Air Conditioned and you feel comfortable to travel under cool atmosphere. And its Fast!

201304B1B410-001 201304B1B410-004 201304B1B410-005 201304B1B410-006 201304B1B410-007 201304B1B410-008 201304B1B410-009 201304B1B410-010

March 18 2015 – was my birthday and I was invited by my friends in Goa who wanted to throw a party to celebrate my birthday. I boarded ‘Rajdhani Express’ at Kankanady Junction at 5.40 am- as I walked inside the two-tier AC compartment I was greeted by two small labrador dogs- What in the world was going on? Although I am a dog lover, I never thought pets were allowed inside trains. These two pets created some panic inside the train compartment, where passengers were complaining/moaning about dogs being on train. After nearly two hours or so, the TC arrived and straightened out the situation- the couple with the dogs were suppose to board the First class compartment, instead they had got into the two-tier AC compartment-which had created all the trouble. They were shifted to the first class berth eventually.

I later checked that “A passenger can take pet dog along with him in AC First Class or First Class only, provided he/she reserves either a two berth or a four berth compartment exclusively for his/her use, paying the due charges depending upon the type of train. Passengers traveling in other classes are not permitted to carry the dog along with them. But the dog can be booked and carried in the Luggage/Brake Van paying the charges depending upon the type of train. Specially designed Dog Boxes are available in the Brake Van for this purpose.  Dogs when carried in the break-van and/or A.C.C. and first class passenger compartments will be charged for at Scale ‘L'(luggage Rates)on the basis of weights indicated below, subject to a minimum charge of Rs.10/- per dog, charges being Prepaid:- When carried in break-van (Dog-Box) 30 kgs, When carried in passengers compartments 60 kgs”

Now coming to the cleanliness inside and outside the berth- there is garbage scattered all over. While passing through the walk-way, I just tripped and fell over a garbage box that was blocking the way. (Refer photos) Not just one, there were a few garbage bags/boxes scattered everywhere. Walking towards my seat, I was surprised to see a hefty man, four times my size, sleeping on my designated seat and snoring like a buffalo. So the train attendant made me to squeeze and sit along with three other passengers-quite uncomfortable it was.

Few minutes later, I decided to have cup of tea-so I walked out to find the cafeteria-but there was none on this train-instead all the breakfast items were stocked near the toilet area-and the water for the tea/coffee was brought from the toilet tap. There were also boxes blocking the exit door-talk about safety? The whole area where the food was stored was stinking terribly. Condiments to be used for breakfast were lying here and there. The area was just filthy with used wrappers of condiments, napkins, straws, stirrers and what not? I saw few cockroaches coming out of the food storage compartment.  Looking at all this health hazards, I decided not to have my tea and breakfast. No matter what day of the year you travel on this train, seems like the breakfast menu is the same throughout the year- egg omelet and bread, if you prefer non-veg or veg cutlet and bread, if you prefer veg breakfast.

Unbearable with the stench around the area, I again walked in-just to find the ‘ sleeping Goliath” had got up, and my seat was available for me to occupy. The whole seating area was covered with thrash-newspapers, used water bottles, banana skins, used napkins and food wrappers etc etc-the area was simply filthy, which also made me think, how in the world could anyone travel in such a mess. Does the railway authorities know about it or  are they just ignoring it ?- are some of the questions unanswered. A few minutes later, the train janitors came, swept the floor quickly, sprinkled some phenol and mopped the floor-every thing was done in few seconds-of course a job half done. The whole compartment had the strong phenol smell. After all, what do you think- you can’t expect good job from government employees, anyhow ? But they come begging for tips for a job not well done.

While I stepped out to use the toilet, I noticed the cleaning staff tossing out all the garbage boxes/bags out of the train on the tracks and land. What a pathetic way to dispose off garbage ? No wonder we see tons of garbage all along the railway tracks. Is this what we are looking for Swachh Bharath? What I think is that- There is no immediate solution to this problem. We can continue the blame game. Change the mind set . Don’t shout only when your house is on fire. Think about others Be responsive & caring. We are not animals who should just be concerned about two square meals & a place to curl ourselves up at night. We are bloody humans with brains and senses. Why we don’t use them is a thought to ponder.

In conclusion, I think its not wise to travel on ‘Rajdhani Express’, with all the hassles, inconveniences, safety hazards, lack of cleanliness and sanitation etc etc, after paying a “premium price” for a “non-premium service and facilities”. What’s your opinion?

Spread the love