With rail routes measuring 65,000 kilometres, the Indian Railways has earned the repute of being the world’s fourth largest transporter, falling behind US, China and Russia.
The network ferries over 8 billion passengers, which is the highest in the world. And now this organisation has announced a huge hike in rail fares for both passengers and freight.
For long-distance trains, the proposed fares are one-third more than the existing fares across all classes. The suburban fare hike in Mumbai has created a furore across political circles and has jolted its 75 lakh commuters.
The hike in fares is expected to fetch the railways a good Rs 8,000 crore. So why are people and politicians protesting even though the national carrier has promised to improve travelling and safety conditions?
Not a single day goes by wherein people do not get stuck inside local trains or wait at stations, thanks to the frequent technical glitches. One’s life is also not guaranteed while while travelling in local trains.
If railway police figures are to be believed, then every day 10 people die due to crossing the tracks or falling in the gap between the train and platforms.
Safety issues, especially for women, need to be looked into with the increase in the crime rate. Moreover, there are inadequate CCTV cameras, the need of the hour. There are complaints of rats and cockroaches found inside coaches, mice roaming on the tracks. Food, water and toilets at stations are dirty and unhygienic.
The railways will have to fill these lacunae found in their services offered to their passengers, and focus on addressing their customers the crores of passengers who will generate this enormous revenue from the proposed hike.
The system of giving pension, free travel to officials and employees of Indian Railways eats into the revenue pie and needs to be cut down. The Indian Railways need to adopt the best possible practices if they want to make their services world-class, rather than indulge in unnecessary politics.