Indian Railways is one of the most crucial Public Sector Undertaking by the Government of India. It is therefore no surprise to see it being a major part of the annual budget in India, over the years. We should feel proud to have the largest railway network in the world. Let us take a look at some of the lesser known facts about Indian Railways:
- The total distance covered by the 14,300 trains on the Indian Railways everyday, equals three & half times the distance to moon.
- IR has about 63,028 route kms. of track: it can circle the equator one-and-a-half times
- IR employs about 1.55 million people: 9th largest employer in the world
- It carries over 13 million passengers & 1.3 million tones of freight everyday
- It runs about 14,300 trains daily
- IR has about 7,000 railway stations
- 42 Railway companies operated in the country before independence: now it is total monopoly by Government of India
All that said, more than often we find ourselves picking on the issues we encounter as users of the rail services in our country. It is one of those topics that everyone relates with and hence we all have something to add to the gossip. We talk about the unhealthy food that is served by IRCTC, but how many of us take the pain to make an entry about it in the complaint book that is available on every train and every IRCTC restaurant. We cringe at the sight of the train toilets while not all of us even have the decency to use the flush after using it. I do not support the flaws that exist but as citizen’s of our country we are equally responsible in the maintenance of the services we are provided with.
The Railway Budget 2015, highlights on some of the innovative ideas that they want to implement in the coming months. My personal favourite being the installation of bio toilets and airplane style vacuum toilets. It is a bold move on government’s part, but the success of this change depends on the passengers. How well will we actually be able to use and maintain this reform?, only time will tell.
The number of thefts and robberies of passengers’ belongings has reached 19,000 in a year, an increase over 50 per cent in a five-year-period ending 2013. Crimes against women other than rape has seen a 305 per cent increase since 2004, and nearly 180 per cent in the last five years.
Around 60 per cent of the total 26,000 cognizable crimes in railways in the last one year occurred inside trains while the rest took place on its premises, data show. On average, it means over 1,000 crimes per passenger train per year.
Looking at those statistics, installation of security cameras in coaches seems like a much needed and necessary move by the government.
Another exciting announcement was the provision of starting wi-fi services on all the Grade A stations across the country. It seems like a positive move, trying to bring to the Indian Railway users one of the most awaited services. Another new addition is the services will be the option of ordering meal online while booking the ticket. This could make a huge difference to many passengers provided the food quality by IRCTC improves.
Only time can tell how these changes will affect the Indian public using the Indian Railways. As Shakespeare said,”Well begun is half done”. The start of the new Railway Budget seems promising and is a good boost to the Indian mood.