4 August 2017

Improvement in Passenger Facilities in different areas on Railways

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)/District Police. However, Railway Protection Force (RPF) supplements the efforts of GRP in providing better protection and security of passenger area and passengers and for matters connected therewith.

Besides, the following steps are also being taken by the Railways to improve security 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. Security Help Line number 182 is made operational over Indian Railways for security related assistance to passengers in distress.

3. Indian Railways have installed CCTV cameras on a limited number of coaches of passenger and suburban trains on a pilot basis.

4. Surprise checks are conducted in trains to ensure security of passengers and alertness of trains escorting staff.

5. Sniffers dog squads are being utilized for anti-sabotage checks in trains.

6. The ladies special trains running in metropolitan cities are being escorted by lady RPF personnel. Staff deployment is made in ladies compartments of sub-urban trains during late night and early morning to ensure proper security to lady passengers.

7. Drives by Commercial Department and RPF are conducted from time to time against the entry of unauthorised persons in trains.

8. Close liaison is made by RPF with the State Police/GRP authorities at all levels for prevention of crime, registration of cases, their investigation and maintenance of law and order in Railway premises as well as on running trains.

With the objective to provide quality food to rail passengers, new Catering Policy 2017 has been issued on 27.02.2017 wherein Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has been mandated to carry out the unbundling by creating a distinction primarily between food preparation and food distribution. The new catering policy, inter-alia, includes the following features for unbundling of catering services (i) IRCTC shall manage catering services on all mobile units. (ii) Meals for all mobile units will be picked up from the nominated kitchens owned, operated and managed by IRCTC. (iii) IRCTC will engage service providers for hospitality industry for service of food in trains. (iv) IRCTC shall not outrightly outsource or issue licenses for provision of catering services to private licensees. (v) IRCTC shall retain the ownership and shall be fully accountable for all the issues pertaining to setting up and operation of the Base Kitchens and quality of food. (vi) IRCTC shall ensure compliance of all statutory guidelines viz. FSSAI norms of food safety in Base Kitchens/ kitchen units and mobile catering units, pollution control, Green Tribunal etc (the statutory bodies mentioned are indicative in nature, not exhaustive). (vii) Third Party Audit of mobile units and base kitchens shall be done by Zonal Railways periodically by an independent agency.

Other steps taken to ensure good quality and hygienic food served to the passengers inter-alia include:- (i) Phased introduction of station based e-catering at all A1 and A category stations for widening the range of options available to passengers for ordering food of their choice. (ii) Introduction of precooked food (‘ready to eat’ meals). (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 with the address @IRCATERING has also been made operational to cater to the complaints/suggestions with regard to catering services.

On Board House Keeping Service (OBHS) is being provided in all Rajdhani, Shatabdi and other important long distance Mail/Express trains for cleaning of coach toilets, doorways, aisles and passenger compartments during the run of the trains. This scheme was implemented in 670 trains up to March’2016.Now the OBHS scheme has been extended to cover nearly 900 trains.
Provision of enhanced passenger amenities in train coaches is a continual endeavor of the Indian Railways. New trains having better passenger amenities, such as Tejas, Humsafar and Antodaya have been introduced during the last one year.

Indian Railways has more than 8000 Stations. It has always been the endeavour of the Railways to provide adequate amenities to the passengers at the stations. Certain amenities are provided at the time of construction of new stations based on anticipated volume of traffic. Amenities are further augmented from time to time with growth in passenger traffic handled at stations, based on the felt need, expectations of the travelling public and availability of funds.

In the recent past Indian Railways have taken various steps to improve the services and facilitate the passengers, some of which are given below.

At stations:

i. Lifts and Escalators at the stations for facilitating movement across platforms.

ii. Battery Operated Vehicles for carrying passengers before/after the train journey, especially senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

iii. Yatri Mitra Sewa for passengers requiring wheel-chair assistance.

iv. Well appointed Retiring Rooms, Waiting Halls and Executive Lounges to relax for passengers during transit.

v. Wi-Fi facility at 127 important stations on Indian Railway.

In Reservations and travel:

i. Introduction of the Alternate Train Accommodation Scheme known as ‘VIKALP’ to give option to waitlisted passengers to shift to alternate train having vacant accommodation.

ii. Provision of facility to physically handicapped persons to book reserved tickets online.

iii. Introduction of paperless unreserved ticket booking through mobile phone.

iv. Automatic refund of confirmed/ Reservation Against Cancellation(RAC)/e-tickets on cancellation of trains.

v. Enhancement of Senior Citizen Quota as well as quota earmarked for persons with disability.

vi. Making provision in the system for automatic preparation of reservation charts at least four hours before the scheduled departure of train.

vii. Provision of facility to book available accommodation after preparation of first reservation chart through internet as well as across any computerized Passenger Reservation System (PRS) counter upto preparation of second reservation chart.

viii. Acceptance of all International Credit/Debit cards for booking of e-tickets through Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation ( IRCTC ) website.

ix. The passengers having confirmed/RAC/Waitlisted PRS counter tickets may cancel the same through IRCTC website (www.irctc.co.in) or through 139 within the prescribed time limit and the refund amount maybe collected across PRS counter on surrendering the original ticket.

x. In order to facilitate cancellation of PRS counter tickets at relatively smaller stations, one of the Unreserved Ticketing System( UTS) cum PRS counters (wherever PRS booking facility is available) has been earmarked for granting refund beyond the working hours of PRS counters/Current counters. This facility is available in respect of PRS counter tickets for those trains whose scheduled departure time is within the next 24 hours.

xi. 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.

xii. Facility for booking unreserved ticket including platforms tickets and Season Tickets through mobile phone in the 6 suburban sections of Indian Railway in Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Secunderabad and in Delhi – Palwal and Delhi-Ghaziabad sections of Northern Railway.

xiii. Commencement of concierge services with facility for online booking of wheelchairs through IRCTC website at New Delhi and 23 other stations.

xiv. Provision of Automatic Ticket Vending Machines to facilitate purchase of unreserved journey tickets.

xv. Extension of e-ticketing facility to foreign debit/credit cards for foreign tourists and NRIs.

xvi. Commissioning of online booking of retiring room at over 488 Railway stations.