Train travel is no longer fun

India is a land of billion people – and this is experienced best at airports, railway airports and metro stations as well as bus stops.

Couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to travel by Indian Railways for work – it had been a while since I travelled by trains. And while I spent couple of hours each way sitting on the platform waiting for train, I could not help but wonder why our railway stations cannot be modernised in the same way as airports as well as metro stations have been in a public-private partnership.

There is an urgent need for upgradation and making the passengers self-sufficient, making the stations more accessible and convenient. In the era where coolies are not available easily, carting up luggage even if it is on wheels up the uneven stairs is no mean task. Even in huge station like New Delhi Railway Station, there is only one escalator at the extreme end of the platform.

The platforms and over bridges are uneven and dirty, benches and fans are few and far, the toilets as dirty as ever. We definitely need more escalators and trolleys for the convenience of carrying luggage especially by single woman or elderly travellers.

What also is required a concerted effort to align coaches and platforms at the same height – majorly the platforms across the country are almost similar – so it requires efforts at the production end of the coaches to align them for the ease of passengers to get on and off the trains along with luggage. The toilets inside the trains also need to be upgraded – even in high-end trains like Shatabdi and Rajdhani they are same as what one would find in the more common lower-end passenger trains – and these are newer coaches; one would imagine that someone would have pushed and brought in changes.

If the airports and metro stations remain clean inspite of lakhs and lakhs of common men and women using them daily, why not give them world class passenger trains and platforms? In my opinion, let’s get the basics right before we think of ultra-modern facilities like wi-fi enabled stations or bullet trains – we can wait for those. Let’s bring the romance of train travel back by making travel experience better.

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