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Sandeep Silas (53), Delhi division manager of the Northern Railway, says his team is working on realising prime minister Narendra Modi’s ‘achhe din’ dreams in terms of passenger facilities. He shared with HT on Wednesday what the Capital can expect from this year’s rail budget.
What does the change of guard at the centre mean for the Railways? For us, achhe din means improving safety, punctuality, cleanliness and redressing passenger complaints. Various departments are working in isolation. This pushes back the organisational objectives. We’re a work force of 45,000 people. You cannot be leader from your office. You have to be out there in the field and seen working with your colleagues.
What all is being done to improve services? On Tuesday, I conducted an inspection of the New Delhi Railway Station with special focus on cleanliness. On Wednesday, I held a meeting of all branch officers including those dealing with on board housekeeping. I also inspected Old Delhi station. We’re also doing night inspections. We have started a 15-day drive to monitor officers’ punctuality. We’re installing eight escalators and booster pumps, replacing water and sewage pipelines across the division.
There are a lot of expectations from the budget… We’re hoping to have more escalators. We’re also aspiring to have travelators - seen at airports - at New Delhi Station. We’re exploring places on the Ajmeri Gate side where these travelators could be laid. Cars will come, drop passengers and go. Passengers can use these moving walkways to get inside platforms. This will reduce vehicular congestion that has been one big problem. I have told officials to prepare a plan. We also want high-quality food courts at our stations.
What are the major challenges facing the railways? Quality in services is a challenge. Poor access to stations is a big problem. We don’t own the approach roads. Other agencies must cooperate. The daily footfall at New Delhi station is 5.5 lakh which in itself is a big challenge and a cause for much of the problems, including poor sanitation and congestion, facing us.
You’re also in-charge of catering. There have been many complaints… There is a railway board committee on catering. We’re maintaining quality in catering in terms of quality, quantity and pricing. Most catering licenses have been renewed. We have deputed inspectors in base kitchens, stations and on trains. We’re not the best, but we can certainly improve.
How do you plan to better the work culture? We’re all well educated professionals. Some of us have studied at IITs and IIMs. I have done my masters in public administration from Syracuse University in the US. We could have joined corporates and earned much more. But if we have chosen public service, we must show full commitment. I don’t care for how long I am in a particular role. We must make the most of every moment at work.