Indian Railways is upgrading its trains, but do we really deserve better? In a shameful act, a trail of destruction was left aboard the Mumbai-Manmad Panchavati Express train, just four months after the popular intercity express train service got new modern Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches, with upgraded features. The upgradation had cost Indian Railways around Rs 38 crore. According to a Mumbai Mirror report, the vandalism and theft left the Central Railway zone, under which the train is operated, with a repair bill of around Rs 9 lakh. Not only that, the report said that this amount excludes cost of paint needed to gloss over hundreds of paan stains and other signs of defacement.
While revealing the extent of the vandalism, a railway official stated these damages; damaged upholstery of 1,016 armrests, 536 wrecked armrests, stolen knobs of 513 snack tables, 179 torn magazine holders, 86 broken handles to recline seats, 27 ruined curtain pieces. Other than these, 50 health faucets, 43 washroom mugs, 25 taps, 37 flush valves, 17 dustbins, and 15 mirrors were stolen, the report said. Also, 23 vestibule doors were damaged and 1 centre table vanished.
According to railway officials quoted in the report, it has almost become a practice among railway passengers to ruin newly introduced railway services and facilities. Last year, in the month of May, during the debut run of Mumbai-Goa Tejas Superfast Express train, several headphones were stolen by passengers. Also, there were reports of infotainment displays being damaged on the train, which was launched with aircraft-like features along with many modern conveniences such as LED screens, Wi-Fi service as well as tea/coffee vending machines.
Central Railway’s Chief Public Relations officer, Sunil Udasi said that if these acts of vandalism continue, it would be difficult to maintain the rake to a reasonable standard. The Central Railway appealed to railway passengers to help them curb vandalism and to maintain the service, he added.
The new modern rake of Panchavati Express train was introduced on May 9 this year. It has 21 coaches, including 3 air-conditioned chair compartments, and also it is comparatively faster and safer than normal rakes with the capacity to hit a speed of 130 kmph, the report stated.