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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

modernisation of the railways

The Indian Railways have announced reservation of tickets from 1st January 2006 through the internet on all super fast trains thro the link – www.irctc.co.in

The slogan for 2006 for the railways is ‘service with a smile’. When our present Railway Minister took over, he had announced several measures to boost the ego of people who toil hard to prepare earthen kulhads. His intentions were noble, we would have, in due course of time, discarded the plastic throwaway cups that litter the railway tracks and result in destroying the environment. Tea served in kulhads is still popular in some parts of the country, he wanted to make it popular throughout. People of the ministry must have devoted several sleepless nights to work out statistics of how profitable the venture would be. Yes, eco-wise, it would have been a sensible move but, other considerations must have influenced the decision to put this introduction on hold.

More recently, there was a news item indicating that cell phone charging points would be made available in the long distance trains so that the travelers could make use of them instead of carrying dead weights in their pockets. One more sensible move – today everyone has a cell phone. Introduction of this facility will help us to keep in contact with our near and dear ones while on long journeys; we can tell them the approximate time by which we are likely to arrive at our destination. They can, accordingly, come to the station to receive us. Otherwise, they would have to keep waiting relying on the announcements through the PA system, which seldom conveys the correct picture.

While on the subject of cell phones, here is a proposal for the Railway Safety Board to ponder over – since computerization of railway reservations have been done, an additional service could be thought of. A second page of the ticket could indicate the telephone numbers and contact person of all the scheduled halts on the route. This could be extracted from an updated database. Thereby, the cell phone owners can pass on messages to the next station in case of emergencies like illness, fire, and dacoity. Instead of relying only on the link of the guard and the driver, which may not be adequate, let the RSB consider expanding the base. This additional facility at a nominal charge of ten rupees per seat could be included in the basic cost of the ticket. The reverse side of the sheet could carry advertisements – that can help earn additional revenue.

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