In order to make officials more accountable and involved in improving railway services, Northern Railway has come up with a new idea: get them to "adopt" railway stations and trains.
"This is an initiative by the Delhi division of Northern Railway. We have a team of about 150 staff from various departments who have been entrusted with this task," said Northern Railway spokesperson Anand Swarup.
The programme, aimed at increasing accountability and responsibility of officials, was launched this month.
Officials have been given a free hand to question staff at stations and on trains and submit a monthly or bi-monthly report to the zonal manager for review so that measures for improvements in services may be taken up.
The first report is expected in August.
"Each official has adopted either a railway station or a train or both. He or she will make surprise visits to stations to check the quality of drinking water and the food sold, the condition of waiting rooms and toilets, assess security arrangements and overall passenger amenities," Swarup told IANS.
Officials in charge of trains will similarly take stock of timings and delays, quality of food provided in the train, condition of coaches, the overall level of hygiene and cleanliness in toilets and address complaints by passengers.
The initiative involves 45 major trains that include Rajdhani, Shatabdi and other long distance trains originating from stations falling under the Delhi division.
"This initiative is by the Delhi division of Northern Railway. However, it may be extended to other divisions as well," said Swarup.
Added divisional railway manager BD Garg: "The idea is to make the whole reform process more focussed, and increase personal involvement of the staff."
According to officials, the initiative is being taken up after Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee gave a free hand to zonal officials to improve passenger amenities.
"The minister has given clear instructions that the zonal managers are free to take any measures to ensure that the passengers are getting all amenities at stations and on trains," said a railway ministry official.
Recently, Banerjee told general managers that "there is need of a continuous monitoring mechanism to improve the punctuality performance in all zonal railways".