A first time move to invite suggestions online from the public in the run-up to the Rail Budget has landed the Indian Railways with over 16,000 suggestions —ranging from the interesting, to the curious, to some that are downright bizarre.
One of the suggestions has asked Railways to consider having a RFD-based push-button system on tickets which will connect passengers to the Railway Protection Force personnel on the train or the nearest railway station.
“We got back this to this person to get more clarity on his suggestion. We asked him whether this kind of a system was available anywhere in the world and how he thought the Railways could go about it. He couldn’t enlighten us further and sought some time to get back. We have been waiting for him since,” a senior Rail Bhavan official said.
In a bizarre suggestion, a person has asked Railways to post “well-educated and good-looking employees” at the Munabao railway station (from where the Thar Express to-and-from Pakistan operates) “so as to appear superior to Pakistanis”. The person also suggested that since the land between Munabao and Barmer stations is arid and dry, tree plantation on both sides of the railway line should be done “so that first impression about Indian land may fall good” on passengers coming from Pakistan.
Another odd suggestion is one that asked Railways to consider engaging “a few nurses” in select trains who can help passengers dealing with “lifestyle diseases”.
Another person suggested that fans can be fitted atop coaches so they rotate with the wind when the train is running, “these can be connected to turbines and generate electricity” which can be used inside the coaches. A similar suggestion wants railways to try using solar panels atop coaches. A pilot project for this is already undergoing in the Kalka-Shimla Railway.
There are also a host of suggestions that appear to have caught the officials’ eye and may find their way either into the upcoming Rail Budget or get introduced at some stage.
One of the suggestions which the Railways may introduce soon relates to replacing the “Your Attention Please” announcement with “You are welcome on (station name)”. “The person who’s made the suggestion argued that many times, passengers inside coaches are unable to figure out the name of the station where their train has halted. We think it’s actually a great idea with no cost involved. It may get implemented soon,” a railway official said. Also, a suggestion to have an auto-lock system for toilet doors when the train is halted on stations appears to have raised some interest in official circles. It also envisages playing a recorded message in coaches warning passengers to vacate toilets when the train is heading for a station.
Senior officials have been directed to actively pursue the suggestions which they think are promising and many of the senders have actually been contacted for follow-up action by the officials.
* Push-button system on tickets to alert Railway Protection Force
* Seats and berths to be made visible while booking tickets online
* Window seats to be sold at a premium
* Automatic locking of bathrooms when trains halted at stations
* Install automated mineral water dispensers in coaches
* Issue tablets to TTEs instead of rolls of paper charts
* Introduce prepaid cash card facility to use railway catering service
* Install air turbines atop trains to generate electricity for coaches