“QUIRKY EXPERIENCES IN INDIAN TRAIN TRAVELS”
Drinking water is without doubt one of the most essential elements in our travel packing. The sleeper class people cannot afford to buy drinking water, as they usually tend to make the journey with the smallest of budgets. They try to save every drop of water in such a way, that it lasts a full journey. But if a large family travels together, it is then that the issue of frequently of fetching water arises. It is not unusual to see people rushing out to fetch water, when the train stops at small and large stations along the way, to fill their bottles and cans.
As for the single use water in the coaches, it is usually filled at major stations along the way. Usually at the starting station itself, all the coaches are filled with water, so that supply lasts till the next major station. But railways always have a history of running late. That causes all issues with keeping water stocked well enough going awry just at the right time. It is only when we need to use the water that taps run dry. The coach has a leaky tank or pipe that drains out water just when everyone needs it badly. It takes a long time before someone from the railways fix it.
There is always shortage of single use water in the coach. This is especially true because more often than not in a long journey, water is unavailable for basic human needs. How many times have people been inconvenienced when they have to brush their teeth early in the mornings, or have an urgent use for the washroom anytime during the day? If the train is crowded, then the chances of the taps running dry quickly is more likely and is often a common phenomenon. Nobody would have solutions to stocking up enough water and so it is a futile exercise chasing the attendant.
Drinking water is never available in the coach, and the vendors have a free hand in selling bottles of water. People are left to fend for themselves and this is one area the railways need to address. There is a lot of concern for the environment that the railways can show, if they stock RO water in the coaches, and ask people to fill up their drinking needs from that. So much of plastic is generated selling water bottles, which can be cut down if railways impose a ban on single use plastic water bottles, and the cost of water too can be brought down drastically, if refilling measures are available.
No matter what price, water is always purchased by the passengers, and so the vendors have a field day, in selling it at a profit and in the process also generating trash. When vendors come selling water, they sell fast and their stock although replenished comes at a steep increase over the MRP. At the same time, the railways can make sure that they have a quicker periodic check in place to fill up single use water in the coaches, more so when they know that the trains are running packed to capacity or perhaps overcrowded. They can have a system in place to ensure that the problem of water supply is eliminated.