dated October 29,1953: Improving Amenities on Railways

Editorial Remarks: Railway administration in India has been giving attention to provision of amenities for passengers. There has been some improvement in recent years, especially as regards third class. Addressing the first session of the National Railway Users' Consultative Council, Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri, Railway Minister, has pointed out that fans will be provided in all third class carriages. The harassed railway traveller will not find yet over-crowding of third class compartments eradicated. More trains and more carriages are needed. Some immediate relief may be obtained by using buses in close co-operation with the railways, especially for short distance travel. The Planning Commission is already thinking along the lines of diverting some goods traffic to roads; wherever possible canal traffic should also be encouraged to relieve the congestion on rail and road traffic. The Railway Minister wants States to use their nationalized road transport services in this regard. We do need planned close co-operation between road and rail transport.

Travellers look forward to getting copious supply of good drinking water at stations, comfortable seats and enough space to sleep. Now that the first class is scheduled to disappear from our trains, the Minister has done well to take up improving second class carriages. Here, too a shortage of carriages seems to come in the way of a swift improvement of conditions. The Inter Class is becoming popular with the middle class, and would become even more popular if sleeping berths are made available on long-distance trains. The Railways must also provide more air-conditioned carriages on long-distance runs, if they are to meet the competition from air transport. In countries like the U.S., fast air-conditioned trains have proved capable of sustaining the challenge from the air. The Minister has asked the public to co-operate with the administration in checking ticketless travel and eradicating beggary. Even if such co-operation is given in full, firm action by the railways is essential. If ticketless travel disappears, the Railways can more easily grant railway concessions to national organizations which are engaged in beneficial, educational, cultural, sporting and social activities.

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