Friday, January 25, 2013

A journey unreserved

If you are living in India and if you travel a lot through Indian Railways you know what I am going to write. The Railways created by the British while they were here continues till today with bare necessary changes which you may call modernisation.

New routes have been added, new coaches (with same kind of design) has been added, computerisation of ticketing has been added, computerisation of train management has been added etc.

But has the user experience changed? Has the commuters changed? I can't think otherwise.

The reserved class commuters pay the niche amount to the Railways and hence get a better treatment while travelling. The unreserved commuters barely get place to sit properly. Out of the average of 20 coaches for a train they get 2 to a maximum of 4 coaches in every train. In normal days this may be sufficient, but during festive days the rush is hard to imagine.

Till 21st of Jan 2013 the Railway fares were tiny compared to other means of travel. Naturally people tend to use Railways, even though there might not be a comfort factor in it. But the story has now changed. The fares are sky rocketed and without any facilities being present.

Take for instance the fare between Palakkad and Coimbatore. Its Rs. 36 in bus and Rs. 30 in Train. Who will wait for the train (which are not reliable compared to buses) and get into this dirty compartments and travel. I think only in case of long distance commuters Railways will remain their best method of travel.

But Railways should seriously consider commuter friendly mechanisms to make train journey more pleasure. People will be otherwise cribbing and shouting at fellow commuters. Railways as its a big network plays a big role in commuting various passengers and give them an opportunity to talk and understand each other. This unfortunately can be only seen if you travel unreserved. In the reserved class, people are mostly from cities/towns who care mostly about privacy, rather than this experience.

Let us wait and watch how Railways transform to the new generation of commuters who will be travelling in them.


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