My recent experience with our Indian railways is about my journey from Secunderabad railway station to Cuttack (Odisha) by the East Coast express. I deliberately ditched air travel for train this time, because it was a personal journey and a relaxed one, hence I was free to choose my own way.
Another thing that I like about long train journeys is the time you get. This particular journey takes about 22 hours which is all mine. I can leisurely watch a movie, read a book without bothering about the usual responsibilities or do other stuff that I like.
I must say that our railways has really improved, and I want to share here what I experienced throughout.
Cleaning: Coaches are really clean compared to how they used to be, few years ago. In the bigger stations on the way cleaning staff do get onboard to keep the train clean. Quality of their work is not excellent, but gives a feeling of cleanliness.
Garbage bins: In coaches earlier the garbage bin was just a cube shaped hole under the wash basin at both ends of the compartment. Now they keep proper, easily removable bins at both ends. Those can be easily removed and empties by their staff at stations, when full.
Furnishing: Well, I managed to get the tickets in AC-III, so nothing special here to talk about.
Food: The food options given by the staff in train are very limited and are just ‘ok’, if you’re not serious about your food. However if you want to enjoy food during your journey you can book the same via IRCTC app before hand and get delivered at your seat at the designated stations. There are other non-IRCTC websites too which are delivering food on trains and have much more food options than IRCTC. This is really great.
What I liked: Cleanliness, Food Ordering Options, Politeness of the coach attendants, Time maintained (It reached the destination late, but not by hours).
What should improve:
Sharp edges all around; above the head and near the feet
- There are sharp edges on the metal plates above the windows. I would like to see them designed in a better way. Or may be the coaches should be replaced with modern ones (not a surprise at all, may happen soon).
- They should have more and better quality food options available in house or on the IRCTC app.
- The mobile/laptop charging points should be on both sides of the coach and should be maintained to keep working.
- In AC coaches, the AC temperature needs to be set at a pre-defined level. Some people demand the temperature to be lowered whereas others just suffer the cold. Attendants give in to demanding passengers. This should be regulated.
The suggestions for improvement I’ve given above may differ from person to person. Not everyone worries about all the above issues. My overall experience was pleasant. The importance and popularity of Indian Railways is obvious from the fact that the tickets get sold out within weeks of being open for booking; on some routes maybe in days. That too when the cost of air travel is not out of reach any more. I wish Indian Railways all the very best with a wish that I get to travel with them more frequently.