The next time you feel the railway stations are a bit cleaner or the train staffs are well behaved, you may thank a handful of people.
Ordinarily, Mohan Sharma (name changed on request) is just a bespectacled government accountant at his railway office in Delhi.
But every two weeks, he sheds that avatar for a day and becomes a hyperactive, all-powerful crusader fighting for better services at stations and on trains.
Armed with a recent official decree, Sharma has adopted a station and a long-distance train to ensure that all passenger amenities on offer -- cleanliness, taste of the food, behavior of the staff etc. at his station are top-notch.
He is the officially designated “guardian angel” for the station.
In a novel scheme, Northern Railway has nominated a band of officials like Sharma as caretakers-cum-quality control managers for 154 big and small stations in and around Delhi.
Each official is responsible for the upkeep of one station.
They are supposed to periodically inspect their respective station and assess the quality of services from the passenger’s point of view.
“The station has become like my own project. It is an unusual and interesting assignment to be responsible for the stations. I spend a whole day loitering at the station, nitpicking at everything, much to the annoyance of the station staff,” said Sharma, who is in charge of a small station on the outskirts of Delhi.
Like him, his peers in the team are from all the departments of railways, including Administration, Personnel and others who are never directly involved with the running of stations and trains.
B.D. Garg, Divisional Railway Manager of Delhi, said the idea was to put trains and stations under personalised care.
“The guardians will also help in cutting through a lot of red tape to get jobs done fast. If he finds something objectionable, he will report directly to the top bosses concerned,” he said.
The terms of the assignment extend to the trains as well.
Each of the around 45 important trains originating from the main Delhi stations — Rajdhanis, Shatabdis, select mails and expresses — have been placed in the care of an officer, whose job is to take the train once in a while and carry out inspection.
The officer is also allowed to interview the staff on board, the passengers and also check out for himself the level of hygiene and cleanliness.