The quality of a journey on the Indian Railways is deteriorating rapidly (“Train of woes; they call it ‘shubh yatra',” Open Page, Sept. 25). While Ms Anna Mathew has written about her bad experience on an overnight journey, the plight of a long-distance passenger, even those who travel in an a/c coach or the prestigious Rajdhani, leaves him ruing his bad experience. There are always problems with the water supply, the washrooms and the attendants. It is no exaggeration to state that many prefer to travel by air, even if it means paying a little more. The Railways need to introspect and come out with value-based service to all its passengers. A kasht yatra should become a shubh yatra.
Usually, long-distance passengers face misery in three stages. Initially, while boarding a coach they have to squeeze their way through the narrow aisle managing the onward push and backward thrust of other passengers hurriedly entering the compartment with often oversized bags before locating their berths. Then, it is the indefinite wait for other passengers to finish their meals as the middle berth gets held up. Last is the crowd of office-goers who hold season tickets and who hijack the coach early in the morning unmindful of the inconvenience caused to sleeping passengers. Add to this is a long list of pests — cockroaches and rodents.
I travelled by the Brindavan Express, a/c coach, a few days ago. Most of the food trays were broken. The edges of the windows were corroded. In the washroom, the taps could not be turned off. On my return journey, by the Shatabdi Express, some of the window panes were cracked. In the earlier days, a particular brand of quality yoghurt used to be served. But now, due to inflation, we were given a diluted non-branded cup. Cleanliness was poor.