It has been almost 27 years since I was born and since i had been traveling in the indian railways. But with increase in time the indian railways has become from bad to worse. It is actually an ordeal to travel in railways. Then why am i writing the post today and not before. Well, i actually realized it yesterday.
At indian railways, the trains are never expected to arrive on time. All trains run late. And if you are standing at one of the platforms, you will constantly hear - "train x which was supposed to come at time y is delayed by delta minutes/hours. The inconvenience caused is deeply regretted". And the announcer would never sound as if he/she was regretting anything. It is said in a matter-of-fact way - as if we are supposed to know that the delay was naturally expected - just like you expect corruption in each and every section of the government of like you expect to get ketchup free with your samosa.
Let me brief you as to what happened last night. Had been to the delhi station to put my mom on the train for baroda. First of all - it had been a long time since i had been to the railways. So i had to enquire about where the parking was. And very few people seemed to know where it was. And since there is no visible board giving directions - i had to run here and there to get the location of parking space.
Well next - get information about the platform where the train would arrive. And the only way to get this information is to stand in queue - after about 100 people and wait your turn. The uncleji at the enquiry window - does not give a shit about who is on the other side of the window. I had time to enquire - what about people who arrived late and need the info - can they wait in queue for 30 minutes to enquire about which platform they should go. It seems the situation in delhi was worse. Its better in baroda - where there is less crowd and the information is properly displayed on the general information board.
Now - since i know which platform i have to go, i will have to spend rs 3/- to get a platform ticket - so that any Ticket Checker cannot catch me and ask for a 50/- or 100/- ghoos for travelling without a ticket. They usually do. There has been so many instances with my friends where the TC simply asked for a Rs 50/- note to let them go. And the way to avoid this hassle is to get a platform ticket. And to get a platform ticket is another hassle. On new delhi station, it is really difficult first to locate the window which gives platform ticket. Officially platform ticket should be available on all windows. But it seems due to scarcity - its there only on one window. And the queue in front of the window is huge. Hmm, there are always queues at all windows on indian railway stations. It seems that the indian railways is very low on manpower. Well actually thats how Laalu prasad yadav - our respected railway minister brought the operating cost of Indian railways to 78% - the best in the world.
And after getting the platform ticket, we proceeded to the platform. Wow, what a place. It seems that people like to live on the platform. Everywhere - there are people sitting, chatting, boozing, gambling. You have to look for space to put your foot to move forward. I think, this is what they mean by population explosion.
What happens in baroda station is that there is a display on the platform which says where each coach will come for the train. So it becomes easy to move and get placed right in front of the coach. But in Delhi - the capital of india, the numbers on the boards are misplaced so that you have to drag your luggage and run in between the crowded platform to your bogie.
And then the trains are always crowded. It is difficult to get a ticket in a train in indian railways. There is always a waiting list and extra people on the train for whom it is important to reach their destination, but were unable to get a reservation. There are people sleeping on the floor, outside the loo and sitting on your berths.
60 years of independence, and indian railways - it seems - stays where it was.