Why Gatimaan Express Might not be that Great…

Gatimaan Express is finally on tracks, the much awaited and hyped train was flagged of on April 5th 2016 by the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and he said “It’s a proud moment”. I respectfully disagree, It was a overstatement !! Since its announcement in Semi- High speed category train it has always been in news for some reasons or other. Be it delay in issuing safety clearance, Confusion in origin station (whether New Delhi or Hazrat Nizamuddin), the trial run and subsequent killing of 2 students, Etc.

Was it something worth for this hype?? It was just a marginal up gradation of speed. We already have New Delhi – Bhopal Shatabdi Express which starts from New Delhi railway station at 6:00 am arrives at Agra Cantt at 7:57 am, i.e. 1 hour and 57 minutes, just about 15 minutes more than Gatimaan Express. Now, considering the distance between New Delhi station and Hazrat Nizamuddin, the Gatimaan Express was faster than the Shatabdi Express from Nizamuddin to Agra Cantt by a mere 7 minutes. Besides, the Bhopal Shatabdi anyways is known to have hit a top speed of 155 km per hour too between Palwal and Agra Cantt.

Not taking anything away from work the Indian Railways has done but we will have to wait and see the patronage it gets in times ahead. Bad patronage leading to lower occupancy might hurt the railways financially which is already going through bad financial conditions since years now. The most important would be looking after safety measures as we don’t have track fencing as yet and how is it going to run without affecting other trains on that route.

My take on why Gatimaan Express is not that great…..

  • The ticket is priced 1.25 times as compared to the Shatabdi already running. For a 2 hour journey the pricing is significant. Especially when we are used to using railways as the cheapest medium for travel. This would run packed during weekends, festivals and other peak seasons but the occupancy level in normal working days is doubtful. It would benefit Foreign Tourists and business persons more and would be used for commuting during festival seasons. Since the train is originating from Hazrat Nizamuddin there would be a large population for whom reaching there would be a herculean task in morning hours. We would still find Bhopal Shatabdi preferred if timings are not a problem for passenger. Also, initially we might have first time travellers just to have a feel of the much talked baby of the Indian Railways.
  • This would be a non-stop train with the highest priority on New Delhi – Agra sector and there would be few trains bearing the brunt of being shunted for this mighty speedster. There would be trains which will be forced to have unscheduled halt for the mighty Gatimaan to cross over eventually bringing financial losses. The cost analysis exercise has been carried out for trains which precisely tell the cost of halting a train for 2 minutes.

For Example – 12904/Golden Temple Mail which does not have a scheduled stop at RUNDHI, will have to be forced stop at that station for the Gatimaan to overtake. The cost for 24 coach train hauled with Electric loco costs Rs. 13000 for a 2 minute stop. There would be quite a few numbers being overtaken in this busy route.

  • In regards to safety, it is said by the railways that the fencing would be completed by March 2017 post which it would not be a concern at all. Hopefully we do not have safety issues by that time.

What could have been an alternative?

Upgrade Shatabdi itself, It had to be speeded up by few km/hour which could have been easily done. However, There would have been 1 issue arising out for rake allotment had the Gatimaan rake been allotted to Bhopal Shatabdi and run that at enhanced speed because the trial was done for 10 coaches + 2 EOG, Shatabdi runs with 16 coaches + 2 EOG. Now since Shatabdi is already known to hit 155 Km/Hr on that sector I am sure railway engineers are way too competent to find an answer to this. Creating too many categories of trains with different type of coaches increases your manufacturing cost and we should try getting away with this. We already have so many categories the Rajdhanis/Shatabdi’s/Jan-Shatabdi’s/ Garib Rath / Duronto’s/ Double Deckers Etc.. and increasing.

Taking nothing away from the Indian Railways, it’s certainly a small step forward but not really a proud moment. My congratulations to the Indian Railways & Team for their new baby & wish it leads a healthy & safe life. Presented views might go wrong but “Facts don’t get wrong too often”

 

 

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Why VIP Quota / Head Office Quota should be scrapped in Indian Railways..

We are 3 months away from the railway budget and senior railway officials must be at some serious work. The ministry has already asked for suggestion regarding railway budget 2016-17, you can send in your suggestions online through this link.

http://indianrailways.gov.in/railwayboard/BudgetUploadDoc.jsp

I have put forward my request as well for the upcoming rail budget and wish it does not goes unheard.

The VIP culture is very prevalent in India. Hence, it swiftly flows into the Indian Railways too. Currently there is an Emergency Quota of 60,000 berths (Approx) a day which is supposed to be utilized for Emergency needs and Official travels of VIPs. However, this facility is not being utilized effectively and in many cases not reaching the citizen who may have a real Emergency at hand and needs to travel.

The so called Emergency Quota/ VIP quota / Head Office Quota, which I call it as Hidden Quota which has no system in place to track, no guideline which defines who falls under these quotas and this creates a potential nexus between agents and some railway officials. Railway Officials are misusing there authority to offer seats to friends and families which many of us must have been a beneficiary too. I had requested for a list of allotment of berths through this quota for a specific date & train through a RTI query (Registration No – DOP&T/R/2013/60889 dated 09.05.2013) which has not been replied to.

Putting forward a case for 12230/Lucknow Mail (New Delhi to Lucknow), this train has 4.5 Second Tier AC Coaches (A1, A2, A3, A4 & HA1). With 46 berths available in one coach this would have 207 (46 X 4.5) berths available for booking, which unfortunately is not the case. Presented below is the quota wise allocation (The figures are approx)

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We find that 24.15% seats are reserved for High Officials/VIP/Parliamentarians. Quota culture was perhaps meant for the British Officers to enjoy the privileges. Well, they had to do it, since the need was to rule the whole country with iron hand to suppress any sort of uprising against them, to create an INFERIORITY COMPLEX in the minds of the people by having the VIP tag.

I best way to get away with this wicked rule is to reduce the available number of berths by at least 75% bringing it down to 15,000 a day. I would rather suggest scrapping this quota completely for Sleeper Class. After all which VIP travels in Sleeper Class? Few more things could be proposed, like

Having transparent system for such allocation, a clear guideline defining emergency & VIP.

Moreover, Only VIPs and Railway officials should have access to this quota for themselves and for official journeys only & Usage should be limited to a certain number of times & proper record should be maintained.

Dear Railway Minister & Officials of the Railway Board, Let’s start making Indian Railways more transparent than ever before.

 

 

 

 

 

‘You will not have my hatred’, husband of Paris victim tells ISIS

A emotional pitch made by a husband who lost his beloved wife on the ill fateful night of 13/11 on his Facebook Page..

“Friday night, you took an exceptional life – the love of my life, the mother of my son – but you will not have my hatred. I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls. If this God, for whom you kill blindly, made us in his image, every bullet in the body of my wife would have been one more wound in his heart.

So, no, I will not grant you the gift of my hatred. You’re asking for it, but responding to hatred with anger is falling victim to the same ignorance that has made you what you are. You want me to be scared, to view my countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You lost.
I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night; just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago. Of course I am devastated by this pain, I give you this little victory, but the pain will be short-lived. I know that she will be with us every day and that we will find ourselves again in this paradise of free love to which you have no access.

We are just two, my son and me, but we are stronger than all the armies in the world. I don’t have any more time to devote to you; I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.”

Strong words & feelings from a husband, deepest sympathies for him and his son they both deserve a happy life ahead. You need courage and wisdom to bear the loss & certainly you would.

My deepest sympathy with all the families who lost their near and dear ones but there are thousands of such unheard stories in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Burma, Beirut etc for which there are no sympathizers. This is a endless debate if they really need sympathies but They too lost their loved ones in the Air strikes conducted by US and its coalition. They too had feelings, someone was father or mother, brother or sister. But this arrogant world ignores them completely. This kind of incidents will not stop unless world removes this double standard. Just changing the facebook /whatsapp DP is not going to solve this problem, It would only help Facebook & Whatsapp in some way or other. Each innocent life is equally important whether it lost in Iraq or Syria, US or Mumbai.

Paris…… Stay Happy, Stay Safe, Stay Strong!!

The Truth of Indian Railway Fare…

India’s Rail Network is the 4th longest and the most heavily used system in the world transporting over 10,000 Million passengers & over 1000 Million Tonnes of freight annually. Is this not a reason enough for us to have a world class railways with affordable fare for all. Expecting a world class railways as of China, France, Japan, Germany would be expecting far beyond and moreover this is something which requires lot of investment & time, all we should hope is it would happen sooner or later.

But are we affordable? We are not..We are certainly Not… See it for yourself and judge…

We see vacant berths offered under PREMIUM TATKAL (PT) category. This category is only consumed during peak festival rush. What could be the reason behind it? The only reason you would find is the exorbitant fare being charged under so called the Dynamic Fare Pricing. This is sometimes far beyond what is charged by the Airlines. Are we calling this as affordable means of travel? We have new scheme of suvidha trains running during holidays/festivals where again fares are equivalent to Premium Tatkal Tickets. Are we not catering to richer section of the society rather than coming up with something that benefits all?

TATKAL is a Hindi word which means emergency/urgency/extremely important etc and its ironic that approx 30% of the train berths are reserved under this category. This in other word means that 30% of the travelers travel under emergency situation which is laughable & to add you have option of booking a Wait list Ticket under this category. Over a year back wait listed tatkal tickets were given preference over general waiting list in case of extra coach augmentation & left out berths at time of charting. However, this has changed after PIL was filed in court.

The fares are not being increased in Railway Budget so as to avoid common people backlash & here we have a back door mechanism to compensate for that. Now we have another rule being enforced from Nov 12, 2015 on increase of cancellation charges which is only going to increase Railways revenue. Increase in cancellation fare can well be justified if railways stops issues ridiculously high waiting list tickets. We can see wait listing running over 500-700 in many North India bound trains during Durga Puga / Deepawali / Holi festivals. Being practical & realistic these high numbers would never have a chance of getting confirmed berths leading to cancellation & in turn yielding some revenue to the Railways.

We have a Railway Minister who is without doubt working tirelessly in terms of project completion/clearance, Expansion of railways lines, doubling of tracks, Electrification, Green Energy, Bio-Toilets and Swach Railways to name a few. Fair/Affordable availability is something that common man looks into & I pin my faith on Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, A Charted Accountant who took over as Minister of Railways a year ago saying him “PRABHU !! KUCH KIJIYE”

It’s My Take, With all humility may not be yours !!

"A Problem Well Stated is a Problem Half Solved" – Charles Kettering

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