Great railway ripoff | india | Hindustan Times
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Great railway ripoff

With rail profits at an all-time high of Rs 70, 000 crore, three days before Railways Minister Lalu Prasad presents the rail budget on Feb 13, HT travelled on India’s busiest route to find abysmal, sliding standards and enraged passengers. Srinand Jha examines...For the record

india Updated: Feb 11, 2009 01:03 IST
Srinand Jha

“Never mind the rats,” the ticket collector said, reclining on his seat as passengers settled in for the night. “We have no choice but to get accustomed to having them as our fellow passengers.”

As the Mumbai-bound Golden Temple Mail left New Delhi and made quick progress through Rajasthan’s dry terrain, a foul stench from the bathrooms wafted through the train car, mingling with the smell of leftover food on dinner trays piled up near the bathrooms. For the record

At a time when the Indian Railways profits have peaked, an HT reporter made a 38-hour, 2,800-km train journey on one of the country’s busiest routes to investigate if services had improved on the world’s second largest train network.

Here is what we found: services have worsened.

That is to be expected when the company that got the contract to clean bed rolls on one of the trains is, incredibly, a detective agency.

Officials shrugged off complaints about poor service.

“It is not proper to jump to conclusions on the basis of a short travel,” IRCTC Managing Director Rakesh Kumar Tandon told HT.

But a top official said the Railways Board was “deeply concerned” about deteriorating standards of passenger amenities and was taking “corrective steps”.

Toilets filthier than before.
Rats, roaches in new coaches.
Smelly bedrolls in Rajdhanis. Suppliers: detective agency
train Employees not paid for up to six months.
Good luck with catering toll-free number. It doesn’t work.