PROBLEMS IN RAIL TRANSPORT -
September 17th, 2010
PROBLEMS OF RAIL TRANSPORT
Overcrowding is a big issue, with the General compartment often being packed beyond capacity. During the holiday seasons, reserved tickets have to be booked two months in advance, to avoid a generally static waiting list.
During this season the reserved compartments are swamped by many without a reserved ticket. Railway ticket prices are particularly affected by the fact that India in general is a price-sensitive market.
As a public utility, the government subsidises the prices as increasing ticket prices often translates into widespread discontent and most often political damage. This therefore imposes a strong constraint on the pace at which Indian railways can expand or modernize itself.
LEVEL CROSSINGS AND FENCING
In many places, pedestrians, vehicles or cyclists may cut across the tracks to save time, causing a safety hazard to the railways. Reasons given are that suitable bridges or level crossings over the tracks are non-existent or inconveniently placed.
Most railway land in India is not fenced or restricted in any way, allowing free trespass. In rural areas, cattle and other animals may stray onto the tracks, posing a much more serious safety hazard to fast-moving trains.
Sanitation is a significant problem on Indian Railways. Due to the size of the network and low speeds, journeys can last many days. The toilets on Indian Railways trains are of the direct-vent type (i.e. a hole in the floor), without any effluent storage tanks on board.
This causes an accumulation of human waste on the tracks in places where the train stands still, such as in large stations. Due to the number of users, the toilets are often in bad condition.
Indian Railways is currently considering Eco-san toilets for its trains. This may become a catalyst for better and more environmentally friendly sanitation in the country.
THEFT AND ROBBERY
The problem of theft in the Indian Railways has been assuming different forms at various stages in the history. While the problem of dacoits was a serious one in Bihar during the 70s and 80s, it is seldom seen now.
Currently one of the most prevalent complaints lodged in the railway police records is that of the "biscuit bandits"; their modus operandi being the befriending of customers near their seats and offering them drugged biscuits or other eatables and waiting for the ideal opportunity to relieve them of their money and/or jewellery.
This has become such a nuisance, especially in the eastern side of India that special teams have been assigned to catch the culprits.
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