“QUIRKY EXPERIENCES IN INDIAN TRAIN TRAVELS”
Train journeys in India often kindle mixed response from passengers. While some AC coaches are world class, you cannot speak of conditions in sleeper class in the same breath. At best it can pass muster as an affordable solution. Not only unconfirmed passengers enter but also the coaches are not designed to cater to common needs. In fact these two issues are the ones I have most faced in my decades of travel. Needless to say, if we take a survey, these two issues would rank among the top for improvement in services.
Issue of Over Crowding:
The coach running full, conveyed a picture of congestion. While the inner berths had people with advance bookings, the bottleneck was on the side berths, where seat adjustment stories were happening. With only a general ticket, I found a person occupying a lady’s seat. But the lady had her way, by creating a scene, something he didn’t factor in. Allowed into the train, he held hope that he would get a confirmed berth, based on cancellation, by the time the train reaches a few stations ahead. Being a regular on the train, he identifies the coach TTE and knows how to push things around, to get the job done.
Once the train started the mix on the side berths were general tickets and RAC tickets. Looks like side berths are specially designed for last minute bookings. Come night time, I found the scene for all those hopeful travellers, change to one of hopelessness. One person came and sat at the edge of my seat, while I laid down, wanting to travel only a short distance, till one of the intermediate stations. Those travelling longer distance, decided to sleep in the corridors and near the doors. I can’t think of a better proof for an overcrowded train. I am not even talking of those scenes of extreme overcrowding where you find people travelling on train tops. That’s for some other day.
Issue of Outdated Coaches:
The most common issue I have had with outdated coaches is that they do not have enough electrical points to plug in the devices. How on earth do they expect a coupe of 8 passengers to travel with only 2 plug points. That too, only inside berths have access to plug points, a facility not available to side berths, at most times. Even those plug points many a time do not function, for the point won’t hold the charger inserted, thus not charging.
On countless occasions I have stood near the door on one end of the coach, as the plug point is sometimes available there only. There are other major issues too, like fans not working, especially in summers. It is an all too familiar scene of using a hair comb or a tooth brush, to get the fan to rotate. Even then it makes noise. Not to mention the other repulsive issues like odour, cleanliness and maintenance of basic human necessities, while on travel in trains. Well, the list is long.
The fundamental question is this. Why would I pay a steep additional price, for a tatkal ticket, only to find myself denied access, to the basic fundamental requirements for modern day travel? And I am not talking about AC class here, where too, some issues mentioned above, may find resonance. Time for the railways to think and apply their minds on this issue.
I will cover about an unexpected ride to the yard in one of my later posts.
Until then here’s signing off for the day. Please come back for more tomorrow.
The quirky experiences on an Indian train travel continues….