Indian Railways is the largest of it’s kind in the World. Everyday, Millions of passengers board on the trains and travel to corners of India in the most affordable manner. Without Indian Railways, Indian transportation system will not be able accommodate the mass commuting.
There are many experiences one get while traveling with Indian Trains. Here are my top ten.
- Seating Adjustments
The first experience when passengers board on trains of Indian Railways is the friendly adjustment of seats among families, strangers.
- Many people still wonder that why the automatic seat allotment always give upper and middle berths to senior citizens
- Youths always give away comfortable seatings to the elderly and women passengers
- At times, seating adjustment happens not only within one seating unit, but also across the compartments
- The Ticket Inspectors happily take notes on the changed seats and accommodate these requests
- Ticket Checking Ritual
Few minutes after the train’s departure from its origin, the ticket inspector (often called TTE – Train Ticket Examiner) starts his ticket checking ritual. A very important task of him to verify tickets carried by the passengers, to catch people who travel without tickets, to penalize people who misuse the train etc.
- While checking passengers’ tickets, the inspector also takes care of the seating allotment of people who booked via tatkal or got seats alloted lately.
- The other tasks conducted by the TTE during the journey are profound. They need to address complaints, report on the drunkards, ticketless, regularize merchants, chase out beggars etc.
- Luggages, Fans, Lights
Once boarded and got their tickets verified, people slowly get into their comfort zone by utilizing the electrical fans, lights, charging stations to their fullest advantage. Passengers secure places under seats and side corners to arrange the luggages. When the fans don’t rotate, Indian Passengers have a clever method to start it using their pens or combs. One must really travel in Indian trains frequently to get these multi-flavored experiences.
One of the aspects during the train journeys, that makes both Indian passengers and foreigners embarrassed is the beggars. You will get to witness an array of beggars who seek money from every passenger along their way. Some are really beggars who can’t manage life on their own like left alone elders, blind people, people with severe disabilities and deformities. But their proportion are in lesser number. Majority of the other category beggars simply need a easy way with life.
Indian Trains are filled with business people. Merchants sell everything one can buy during their train journey. From magazines to music instruments, from fruits to meals, clothes to toys, the list can go on. And yes, they wouldn’t continue selling on trains, if their business is not very profitable. For a wide category of passengers, these merchants sell a variety of goods with a conversational shopping experiences. People do love buying many things as they would need many products contextually.
- Toilets and Hygiene
Though this is not a prideful aspect of Indian Railways to discuss in public, we sure need to understand the magnitude of passengers use these public trains. Well, many are not educated on how to use these toilets properly. Many don’t follow. We can’t blame any particular administration or the whole lot of people. The Government is doing all it can to provide detailed localized instructions, adequate staff members to clean the toilets. Surely it can do a much better job. More awareness campaigns and advertisements need to be aired to make people understand the importance of cleanliness and the overall image of India we project to foreigners.
From entering into the railway station in the place of origin to getting out of the station in the place of destination, passengers on the train are continuously being attempted by petty thieves. While charging our mobile phones or talking across the window, securing the luggages, sleeping with open windows on the platforms or during train crossings, one must be very careful of robbery attempts. The Railway Police are doing a fantastic job these days. Every compartment in the express trains has armed policemen protecting passengers 24/7. Still, every corner of the world can’t be patrolled.
This is a favorite topic. Indian railways on long-distance trains have arranged for catering services. This unit prepares food on the train itself and serves to passengers. Few exclusive trains of elite routes and at higher classes prepare truly hygienic food and caters. But the catering contractors on most of the general long-distance express trains serve very low quality food. This forces people to buy foods from mobile food merchants on the train and who have stalls on the stations. This is another area, Indian Railway could regularize a lot.
- Train Crossing Time
Train Crossing Time (TST) is not an official time zone like like Indian Standard Time (IST). It just refers to the waiting time, passengers go through when two trains cross over on few railway stations where they are just one or two railway lanes. The department prioritizes the long-distance trains and local passenger trains need to wait for the crossing. Sometimes, this happens on the other way around, when the long distance trains come late by hours.
- Train Friendships
Indians are in general good with conversations, especially with total strangers. From a simple smile to hello, passengers get to the in-depth understanding of co-passengers sometimes. Many people have gained life long friends, meet their love of life, strike business contracts during the journey in Indian trains. Elders give free advice. Youths have their fun.
Regardless of any negative or shortcoming aspects one might experience during their train journey, people always take the bright side. You will witness unity in diversity while traveling on Indian trains. I am sure, you would have gone through good and bad times. Please share your experience in the comments section below.