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Improving Passenger Amenities and Services in Indian Railways

New Delhi.30.07.2016 (PIB)-Improvement, augmentation and maintenance of amenities at Railway Stations on Indian Railways is a continuous process and is undertaken as per requirement and availability of funds.   Certain amenities are provided at the time of construction of the new stations based on anticipated traffic. Amenities are further augmented from time to time based on growth in passenger traffic at stations, needs and expectations of the travelling public and availability of funds. In addition, normal works are taken up for upgradation of passenger amenities under ‘Adarsh Station Scheme’. Out of 1252 stations identified under this scheme, 988 stations have already been developed. Conceptualization of the schemes for providing amenities/facilities to passengers and its Implementation is a     continuous process. Important initiatives taken by the Railways in the last three years to improve amenities of passengers are as under:

  1. The e-ticketing system was upgraded with the launch of the Next Generation E-ticketing   System (NGeT) for improving accessibility and enhancing the overall experience of e-ticketing. The capacity for E-ticketing System was enhanced to book 7200 tickets per minute from 2000 tickets  earlier and to support 1,20,000 concurrent users as against 40,000 earlier in 2014.  This has been further augmented to support booking of 15,000 tickets per minute.
  2. Go-India Smart Card introduced to facilitate cashless transaction in New Delhi-Mumbai and New Delhi-Howrah sectors.
  3. Establishment of Yatri Ticket Suvidha Kendras for issuing of tickets through public private partnership for establishment and operation of computerised Passenger Reservation System(PRS)-cum Unreserved Ticketing System(UTS) terminals.
  4. Cleanliness campaign under Swachh Bharat Mission was launched by Indian Railways on 2nd October, 2014 Gandhi Jayanti Divas, involving shramdaan and awareness activities. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, several initiatives have been taken to re-inforce the existing mechanism for ensuring cleanliness at stations.
  5. Facility for booking unreserved ticket through mobile phone was introduced in the suburban sections over Mumbai and Chennai to facilitate passengers to book unreserved ticket through mobile.
  6. Facility for online concessional ticket booking facility for Physically Challenged persons on the authority of Photo Identity Card issued by the Railways
  7. Online registration of booking of special trains/ coaches on Full Tariff Rates was started as a pilot project over Western Railway.
  8. Advance Reservation Period (ARP) was increased from 60 to 120 days to help passengers plan and purchase tickets in advance
  9. All India 24X7 Helpline Number 138 was provided to passengers for queries, complaints and suggestions regarding onboard services
  10. Checks on Touting through modifications in the PRS software to prevent cornering of tickets by Touts like automatic log out after one transaction.
  11. Revision of Platform Ticket Rates from Rs.5 to Rs.10 to regulate rush on platforms
  12. Increase in General Class Accommodation on Trains for general class passengers on long  distance Mail/Express trains by delegating powers to General Managers to de-reserve Sleeper Class coaches as  General Coaches  in identified trains & sectors.
  13. Paperless Unreserved  tickets on Mobile introduced as a part of “Operation 5 Minutes” in Chennai suburban  section of Tambaram-Egmore on Southern Railway
  14. Running of Special Trains with special fares over and above time-tabled trains to clear extra rush and augment passenger services.
  15. Facility of SMS alerts through mobile phones in case of cancellation of trains was introduced for convenience of passengers
  16. The capacity of PRS server was enhanced from 7000 to 15,000 tickets per minute
  17. The Tatkal timings were staggered for AC and Non-AC accommodation to facilitate easy purchase of Tatkal tickets
  18. Facility of automatic Refund of Confirmed/RAC e-tickets on cancellation of trains was     provided
  19. Powers to make policy to provide clean toilets to travelling public at stations was fully      delegated to the Zonal Railways.
  20. Paperless UTS tickets on Mobile extended to the suburban sections of Mumbai both on  Western Railway and Central Railway.
  21. Destination alert by SMS introduced on mobile phone for passengers 30 minutes in advance of arrival of train at destination station in Rajdhani, Duronto and Sampark kranti Express trains as a pilot project.
  22. Suvidha Trains with graded pricing structure introduced to meet demand surges during peak demand with facility of limited refund on cancellation of ticket.
  23. Hindi Portal of IRCTC was launched to facilitate booking of tickets using Hindi language.
  24. Additional lower berths for senior citizen and women (increased from 2 to 4) were earmarked in the centre of the coach for women and senior citizens
  25. Defence Travel System to facilitate booking of tickets online for Defence personnel to     eliminate exchange of defence warrants was rolled out on the NGeT platform. Till date more than 2600 Defence units have started issuing tickets through this platform without exchange of warrants.
  26. Concierge services with facility for online booking of wheelchairs through IRCTC website at New Delhi and 23 other stations was commenced
  27. Paperless UTS tickets on Mobile extended to the suburban sections of Delhi-Palwal in Delhi Division of Northern Railway.
  28. Currency Operated Automatic Ticket Vending Machine (CoVTM) to facilitate purchase of unreserved journey tickets provided in Delhi and Mumbai
  29. Station Ticket Booking Agents (STBA) Scheme -a regular STBA scheme based on the pilot STBS scheme was notified for issue of tickets through outsourcing at E category stations.
  30. Facility for paperless MST on Mobile phones launched in sub-urban sectors of Mumbai in WR and CR and in the Delhi-Palwal section of NR.
  31. Platform ticket on Mobile launched for WR, CR and NR (New Delhi and Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway stations)
  32. New Refund Rules was notified which has helped in curbing speculative buying and selling of tickets and improving availability of berths for common man.
  33. Facility for Current reservation facility through internet and at all PRS locations after       preparation of first chart upto minutes before departure of train
  34. Increase in number of berths for handicapped for Physically Challenged from 2 to 4 berths.
  35. Berths for child tickets (5 yrs and above and below 12 yrs) made optional which has helped in providing additional reserved accommodation without any additional inputs by railways equivalent to more than 20,000 additional trains in a year or 54 additional trains per day.

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  1. UTS on Mobile extended  to other sections of Howrah (3) and Sealdah (5) Division of ER and SER  (24.02.2016)
  2. Instructions already exist with zonal railways to provide one Wheel chair per platform and in case of island platforms one wheelchair per two platforms at all A-1 and A category stations.
  3. Instructions issued to zonal railways to introduce the facility of battery operated cars through service provider for carrying passengers on payment basis initially at all A-1 category stations.
  4. Online booking of retiring room has been commissioned at 488 Railway stations.
  5. As per existing guidelines, escalators/elevators  are to be provided  at ‘A1’ category and     escalators at ‘A; category, ‘C’ category stations and stations of tourist importance progressively based on techno commercial feasibility and availability of funds. So far, 295 number of escalators and 146 number of lifts have been provided over the Indian Railways.
  6. Improvement of catering services is an on-going process. In its endeavour to provide quality and hygienic food to the passengers, Railways have developed and operationalized an                    institutionalized mechanism for monitoring of quality and hygiene of catering services through     regular inspections at various levels to address catering complaints.

Further, Steps taken/ being taken to ensure that good quality and hygienic food is served to the passengers include: (i) Introduction of station based E-Catering for widening the range of options available to passengers for ordering food of their choice. (ii) Introduction of precooked food (‘ready to eat’ meals) in the range of options available to passengers. (iii) Operation of centralized Catering Service Monitoring Cell (CSMC) (toll free number 1800-111-321) for prompt redressal of passenger grievances relating to the catering activities and real time assistance to travelling public    (iv) Imposition of penalties in case of deficiencies detected in services. (v) Operation of all India Helpline (No.138) for rail-users to lodge complaints/suggestions regarding food and catering services (vi) A Twitter handle @ IR CATERING has also been made operational to cater to the complaints/ suggestions with regard to catering services.

Steps have already been taken for implementing some of the new initiatives for improvement of catering services like extension of e-catering services to all A1 and A category stations, Janani Sewa Scheme, availability of Children’s Menu through e-catering,  optional catering on Rajdhani/Shatabdi Express Trains  (2 trains) on pilot basis etc.

Improvement of passenger amenities being provided in the coaches is a continual process on Indian Railways. Details of the amenities which are presently provided in the coaches are as under:

  • Cushioned seats/berths, fluorescent light, Air-conditioning, fans, toilet, dustbins and      washbasin facilities, etc. in all mainline trains/coaches being manufactured.
  • Looking mirrors, snack tables, magazine bags, water bottle holders, coat hooks, small      luggage racks, luggage securing  arrangements, mobile/laptop charging sockets, etc. in all mainline reserved coaches.
  • On board/ enroute cleaning facility on identified trains.
  • Seats (cushioned seats in First Class coach). Handholds, fans, lights etc. in sub-urban coaches and , dedicated coaches for ladies and vendors in sub-urban trains.
  • Bed rolls in all mainline AC sleeper coaches.
  • Water in coaches provided with toilets.

Passenger Information System (PIS) have been provided at all ‘A1’ and A category stations. In addition to this policy for provision of WiFi Internet facility at all A1, A and B category stations have also been issued.

In the year 2016-17 (upto June 2016), 19 new train services and extension of 10 existing train services has been implemented. In the Railway Budget 2016-17, introduction of Antyodaya, Humsafar, Tejas and Uday type of train services has been announced and will be introduced upon availability of coaches, necessary clearance of Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), etc. Moreover, introduction of new train services other than announced in Railway Budgets and extension of existing train services is an on-going process over Indian Railways subject to operational feasibility, commercial viability, availability of resources, etc.

(b): Improvement of catering services is an on-going process.  Steps taken/being taken to ensure that good quality and hygienic food is served to the passengers include: (i) Introduction of station based E-Catering for widening the range of options available to passengers for ordering food of their choice. (ii) Introduction of precooked food (‘ready to eat’ meals) in the range of options available to passengers. (iii) Operation of centralized Catering Service Monitoring Cell (CSMC) (toll free number 1800-111-321) for prompt redressal of passenger grievances relating to the catering activities and real time assistance to travelling public. (iv) Imposition of penalties in case of deficiencies detected in services. (v) Operation of all India Helpline (No. 138) for rail-users to lodge complaints/suggestions regarding food and catering services. (vi) A Twitter handle @ IR CATERING has also been made operational to cater to the complaints/suggestions with regard to catering services.

In addition to provision of standard amenities to passengers in coaches, following measures have also been taken in the year 2016-17 till date:

  1. ‘Clean My Coach’ service has been rolled out on more divisions to cover 50 railway divisions across Indian Railways. Under this service cleaning is done by On Board Housekeeping staff when passenger request is received through SMS/Mobile App.
  2. Shan-e-Punjab train was flagged off as first train of Indian Railways fitted with CCTV cameras for greater security of passengers especially women passengers.
  3. Deen Dayalu coach with enhanced passenger amenities was developed and first such coach manufactured.
  4. First ‘Green Train Corridor’ with no human waste discharge from trains was developed between Rameshwaram and Mannamadurai. Besides, improving environment, it would help in reducing corrosion and thereby improving safety.

Safety is accorded the highest priority by Indian Railways and all possible steps are undertaken on a continual basis to prevent accidents and to enhance safety.  These include timely replacement of over-aged assets, adoption of suitable technologies for upgradations and maintenance of track, rolling stock, signaling and interlocking systems, safety drives, greater emphasis on training of officials and inspections at regular intervals to monitor and educate staff for observance of safe practices.  Safety devices/systems being used to prevent accidents include complete track circuiting, provision of Block Proving Axle Counters (BPAC), Auxiliary Warning System (AWS), Colour Light, LED Signals, Vigilance Control Device (VCD), usage of 60 Kg rails and Pre-stressed Concrete Sleepers, long rail panels, better welding technology, progressive use of Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) Coaches, Centre Buffer Couplers with Integral Coach Factory (ICF) Coaches, etc.

Policing on Railways being a State subject, prevention of crime, registration of cases, their investigation and maintenance of law and order in Railway premises as well as on running trains are the statutory responsibility of the State Governments, which they discharge through Government Railway Police (GRP). However, Railway Protection Force (RPF) supplements the efforts of the GRP to provide security to passengers including women.

The following measures are being taken by Railways for safety and security of passengers including women passengers in trains:

  1. On vulnerable and identified routes/ sections, 2500 trains (on an average) are escorted by Railway Protection Force daily, in addition to 2200 trains escorted by Government Railway Police of different States daily.
  2. The ladies special trains running in Metropolitan cities are being escorted by lady RPF constables.
  1. The ladies compartments in sub-urban trains running in metropolitan cities are being escorted by RPF and GRP. Staff deployment is made during late night and early morning in such trains to ensure proper security to the lady passengers.
  1. Security Help Line number 182 is made operational over Indian Railways for security related assistance to passengers in distress.
  1. During the drives, a total of 6,04,097 persons were arrested and prosecuted under the relevant provisions of the Railways Act, 1989 and an amount of ₹ 18.42 crore were realized in the tune of fine during the period of April, 2016 to June, 2016.
  1. Close Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) have already been provided at 344 stations over Indian Railways. Railways have also planned to install Video Surveillance System (VSS) at 1000 stations under Nirbhaya Fund.
  1. RPF holds regular coordination meetings with State Police at all levels to ensure proper registration and investigation of crime by GRP.

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