Railways has always been known as the Lifeline that Connects Bharat. Indian Railways is the largest rail network in Asia and the 2nd largest in the World. It has 115,000 km of track length. It runs 12,617 trains to carry over 23 million passengers daily connecting more than 7,172 stations. Railways runs more than 7,421 freight trains carrying 3 million tonnes (MT) of freight every day or a billion tonnes annually. With over 1.4 million employees on its rolls, Indian Railways is the world’s seventh largest employer. Such a mammoth enterprise! Despite the many challenges facing it, there is no doubt that our Railways contribute to Nation building every minute of the day.
Ever since the Narendra Modi led Government took over, there have been many facets of the railways which have been improved to make it more people and employee friendly. Some of the stories are so heart-warming that one cannot stop thanking the Railway authorities for making this happen. And one cannot but appreciate the BJP Government which made this possible, making the best use of technology & administrative powers. While almost all earlier Railway Ministers paid special attention to the area they belonged to, the Hon. Railway Ministers of the BJP Government have gone out of their way to see to it that they gave equal weightage to all of Bharat & probably more to those areas which were earlier not reached out to – the Maoist affected areas and the North East. Another change which was very much needed but never addressed was the electrification through Solar panels. But all this another time… Today let us look at the Humane side of the Railways…
BIO-TOILETS & MECHANIZED CLEANING:
Cleanliness was the scourge of the Railways. Seeing human waste on the railway tracks with flies hovering over it is something that most Bharatiyas will remember. Thanks to the bio-toilets this has almost disappeared from our tracks. And something that will make the readers smile – The Railway Ministry has advanced its earlier plan to fit bio-toilets in its entire fleet of coaches from 2021-2022 to 2019. Note: Work on this started in 2011, but the speed with which the work is being completed deserves a loud round of applause.
My mother-in-law, a 85year old lady used to always dread travelling by train (she hates going by road too because of her weak knees) to go to her village. This was because she found it difficult to climb the bridge to go to the other platform. Escalators in Andheri Station made her and many other elderly people happy. Of course it has also helped other commuters with luggage. And for those who cannot use the escalators, Lifts have been installed in major stations. These small citizen-friendly measures which were never thought of earlier, have made life simpler.
It seems unbelievable that the couple with children sitting next to us, could actually be child-traffickers. Would you believe it then if you read that around 35,000 children were rescued in the last four years from railway stations or trains who had either left home on their own or were being trafficked and exploited by others. In Delhi alone, 820 trafficked children have been rescued from railway stations from January to May 2018. Some of these children have run away from home wanting to make it big in cities. But most of them are literally transported from villages, towns and cities to big metros, to push them into begging or into the flesh trade. Project Muskaan of the Railways has helped many such children. Special awareness campaigns have been held to even sensitise Railway employees, Police and stall staff members to this evil.
Another great help that Railway authorities are able to do thanks to the best use of Technology, especially Twitter & Whatsapp, is the uniting of children who have separated from their parents due to large crowds – https://twitter.com/rpfwcr/status/1006057075061895168
IMPROVING LIVES THANKS TO THE FREE WI-FI:
Last month a star was born – Sreenath K, a coolie (railway porter) cleared the written test of Kerala Public Service Commission. What was special about this was that he prepared for these exams thanks to his phone, earphones and the Free Railway WI-FI at Ernakulam Station. The WiFi service, launched in 2016 as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative, provides free Internet at Railway Stations. The Net is full of stories of people who are able to keep in touch with their families who live far away, fend off boredom or even use tutorials & learning materials, thanks to the Wi-Fi services of the Railways.
Now this has to be the most humane gesture that Railways have to be praised for. One way that this has become possible is because of the elimination of unmanned railway crossings. Derailments have reduced thanks to strict security measures. Despite trains having travelled an additional 74 million train km in 2017-2018 as compared to the last five years, accidents were at the lowest in 57 years.
When Sagar Kanjilal, his wife Banashree and their ailing two-month-old boy were travelling in an air-conditioned coach of Yesvantpur-Howrah Duronto Express (12246) on June 5, 2018 night, they were faced with a life-threatening situation – the last oxygen cylinder was about to get empty before they would reach Vijayawada Station which was far away. The on-board TTE Mihir Kumar sent an SOS to PVS Jagga Rao, chief ticket inspector in Vijayawada. Mr. Rao continuously monitored the control office & saw to it that the train reached Vijaywada Station in just twenty minutes before the tank got empty. The railway authorities had kept fresh oxygen cylinders ready for the little boy so that he could use them till he reached Howrah railway station. The train reached on time & and ambulance was ready at the station to take him to the hospital.
In another instance when Mr. Tulsi collapsed on coming out of a washroom, a fellow passenger on the train (12321 Howrah Mail), Bhuvaneshwar Shaw, tweeted about the emergency to the Railway Minister and his brother, Jharkhande called the 182 helpline to ask for medical help. In less than an hour, when the train pulled into Dadar station, a medical team along with RPF and the deputy station master were there to attend to Tulsi. He was then taken to the emergency medical room available at Dadar and was stabilised.
TRANSPORTING WATER TO LATUR:
Water – the most important requirement of Mankind. In 2016, when the Latur region of Maharashtra was reeling under a water crisis, Railways came to the rescue. A total of 25.95 crore litres of water was transported to the parched Marathwada region.
There is absolutely no doubt that the efficiency of the Indian Railways, the administration, the facilities provided, all have improved since 2014. While many of us feel that this is the moral obligation of the Government, the fact is that this Government has gone out of its way to fulfil the aspirations of a growing Nation. Today we take these positive changes for granted, but just once if one were to peek into the past, one would have to agree that every facility that the Railways granted us in the past was given to us as a Dole, a Favour – but today, it is given to us as a Right. We have to appreciate this change. Yes, there is a lot to be done, especially in the area of Punctuality. The present Government is tackling this very seriously, which is obvious when I learn that the punctuality of trains is now being recorded through data-loggers whereas, earlier it was done manually. Now, even if a train is late by a minute, it is counted as a train arriving late. One cannot have any doubt that the Indian Railways is well on its way to being on par with services in other advanced Nations. It may take a little while, but the intentions are clear & the will and backing of the Government is there. What makes me feel more proud is the evidence of warmth and Humane treatment to the commuters.