The Jan Shatabdi - Indian Railways Falls Short on Customer Service

April 01, 2010

This is actually not about the pleasures that we saw on the journey, more about the the condition that the India Railways seems to be in. The spouse and me have traveled to some extent on the Indian railways, criss-crossing the country through the railways (although we have a preference to the AC coaches, and not the sleeper coaches). We normally do the journey between Dehra Doon and Delhi frequently since there is family in both locations.

We normally take the Shatabdi (and have been doing so for many years), and have started seeing the condition of the trains going down over the past few years. It would seem like the same coaches that were in use for the past many years are being used, which is fine, but it also seems that the maintenance of the coaches has come down drastically (and maybe this is how Laloo Prasad Yadav earned money on the railways, by cutting down the cleaning and maintenance). So, now when we go, there is a smell in the train, the loos are normally never as clean as they used to be, and of course water eventually ends midway during the trip.

But what happened on the course of a journey just a few weeks back took the cake. We were not able to do the normal Shatabdi, and had to book the Jan Shatabdi that leaves in the afternoon. We thought that this is a train that also has non-AC coaches, but everything else would be the same (the ticket price was around the same). First surprise, the train was 1 hour late. And when the train came, passengers started coming out from the train (which means that the train had just arrived and they had decided to move the same train to departure).

The reaction of people when they entered the AC chair car was incredible, one could not believe how dirty the train was. There were cups on the floor, there was coffee and tea on the floor and some of the seats, and also other rubbish (this was done by the departing passengers, but it was the responsibility of the railways to ensure that incoming passengers paying fare are entitled to clean coaches and clean loos (one look at the loos, and it was an attempt to hold things till we reached our destination)).

We tried talking to the TT for getting hold of the complaint book (there were other problems, in some cases, the meal tray would not hold in place and kept on falling on the person in the seat), but the TT declined to offer any such book, and politely told us that such things happen once in a while, what is the point of raising such a complaint. This also told us the likely treatment of any complaint that we raised.

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The Jan Shatabdi - Indian Railways Falls Short on Customer Service


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