I had to take a railway journey again from New Delhi. As I entered the premises, I reminded of one earlier one when a burglar took away the purse of Yamuna, and I didn't find any one to complain. This time my agony was different. It was regarding the porters. With mass promotion by Lalu for gaining popularity, porters are in shortage. We had reached at least an hour earlier as usually the persons of our generation do. It was still some 40 minutes for the Rajdhani for Howrah to be on platform. The digital departure display board was showing already the time and platform number (11) for the train. No porter agreed to take our one but so heavy suitcase and wait to put it in the train. Then we found one elderly one who agreed to take it to the platform and leave us where our coach would come. We had to compromise and so agreed. Because of my age and heart surgery, I was finding myself helpless. I was happy to see our names printed in Hindi in the chart displayed. It also confirmed that it was the right platform. Many other passengers of the train were also waiting. I was discussing with Yamuna about my grandfather who would always come to the railway station much earlier and why should we change and become more time conscious. Suddenly, we heard an announcement of the change of platform of the train from 11 to 14. With no porter to help, we found ourselves miserable. It was really a difficult task to carry the suitcase up the steep and high staircase of the overhead bridge leading to the other platform and take it down. No one was ready to hear about our request though we tried. I dared to take it up with lot of problem and Yamuna's assistance. On the bridge we could find one porter who demanded Rs 100 to get us in the train. We had to yield to the rogue. As usual, he was taking advantage of my problem for age. Interestingly, the porter at Howrah station also pocketed Rs 100 from us for a single suitcase to take it up to taxi instead of the going official rate of Rs 20 per baggage.
I wonder why can't the railway stations have some staffs to help passengers from the arrogant porters demanding any money they wish. The basic culture of service to the customers is missing right from the minister to the porter.
With whole lot of claims of achievements through full page advertisements and announcements to transform New Delhi Railway Station into world class one, nothing has changed on the capital's main railway station in last 5 years of the rule of Lalu. He himself along with his sycophants keeps on claiming himself to be the best railway minister the country has produced till date. If Lalu and his ministry can't transform one single railway station in five years, what can one hope of the execution capability of the government machinery?
The huge railway management has potential to change the image of the country if it starts working efficiently with that mission. I get ashamed to see the filth all along both sides of the railway track. By training and making the station masters and other employees of the railway stations accountable, the railway can attain cleanliness with a minimal investment. However, it can't happen with minister Lalu who spends most of his time in getting back the reign of Bihar, his home state to his family by any fair or foul means. He might have managed to get indispensible for Manmohan or Sonia, but the people of his state or the country can at the best laugh at his zester like postures and statements. I wish mandatorily the person heading railways is a technocrat manager of the Delhi Metro's Sreedharan's capability for completing projects. Alas! The politicians will not allow that to happen, as otherwise Paswan and Lalu would not have fought for getting the railway ministry in UPA.
I quote only one aspect of Lalu's famed efficiency and management skill. According to a report on central sector projects compiled by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, Indian Railways' total project cost over-run shot up 93% to Rs 72,728.67 crore as in August 2008. The delay in execution and completion of several railway projects range from a few months to as many as six years.
Can one still consider Lalu as the best railway minister? How long these politicians keep on considering the people of the country as fools? Unfortunately, Lalu keeps on managing media both print and digital well. The man who dropped the proposal of a Japanese type bullet train service between Mumbai to New Delhi that was initiated by the previous government as the first thing when he grabbed the ministry, is talking about a bullet train between New Delhi and Patna after visiting Tokyo recently. Will the people of Bihar be fooled by this? Perha ps they will in the coming election.
I think instead of blaming the whole railway minister for the discomfort, the best and useful thing that can be done in such situations is to write suggestion/complain to the concern railway official, so that we have better railways. This is also our duty as a citizen. Well I am no fan of our railway minister. But sometimes people over do things by cursing him.
You have rightly pointed out the issues at railway stations. I fully agree with unprofessional way of planning and moving trains from one platform to other platform. If they don't have this much vision of half an hour in advance then how can they run the train.
The other place where people get squeezed by railway is in rail fares. Most of the tickets they have marked as Tatkal. Remaining they keep for VIP quota. You will be lucky if you get tickets available. VIP quotas will be released one day before or probably the time of chart preparation. This will force you to buy tickets in Tatkal. Tatkal means you will land up paying start to end of train fare. If you will cancel the tickets the almost nothing will be returned. This is too much unnecessarily charging from travelers and showing railway in profit. Except showing some profit in budgets there is no improvement in railway even we are paying more on the name of Tatkal, e-tickets, Superfast charges etc.