Indian Railways has come up with a new way to check the quality standards that are being maintained across various classes of coaches on trains! According to directions issued by the Ministry of Railways, senior railway officials will now have to travel in all classes of coaches to get “first-hand” information on the kind of amenities and facilities that are being provided to passengers.
This means that railway officials will now have to travel in sleeper, AC-3 tier, AC-2 tier and AC-1st class coaches. Elaborating on the decision, Anil Kumar Saxena, the Spokesperson of Ministry of Railways told FE Online, “The Ministry of Railways, in August 2017, has decided to put in a mechanism in place where the Board Members/General Managers/DRMs shall undertake journeys in SL/3A/2A/1A classes to take stock of the condition of the coaches, cleanliness, amenities/facilities etc.”
The move, says Saxena, would help railway officials assess passenger satisfaction within the prescribed parameters of Indian Railways. “Board Members/General Managers/DRMs will undertake journeys in every quarter preferably on longer routes so that they can spend maximum time on train to assess deficiencies,” Saxena said. Traditionally, senior Railway officials get to travel on AC-1st class. This direction by the Railway Ministry may prove helpful in gauging the shortcomings that need to be addressed at various levels in train journeys.
In the past few months, Indian Railways has come under severe criticism for the quality of food, linen and blankets that it provides to passengers on trains. CAG reports in this regard have even called the food served by Indian Railways unfit for human consumption. The auditor has also slammed railways for the hygiene standards of linen and blankets, raising questions on the frequency of cleaning. On its part, Railways’ firm IRCTC has formed a new catering policy. IRCTC will now set up new kitchens and upgrade the existing ones. Additionally, Indian Railways has asked NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) to redesign the blankets that it provides to passengers in AC coaches and also has plans to increase the number of mechanised laundries across the country.
Along with the above steps, one hopes that latest move to make railway officials travel in all types of train coaches would finally help railway officials understand ground realities and serve as a way to improve services.