As commuters stepped into the air-conditioned coach of the Manmad-bound Panchvati Express on Monday, they had a surprise. A sari-clad hostess greeted them with a smile and guided them to their seats.
Setting a new benchmark for hospitality and discipline in rail travel, Rail Parishad — an NGO that has train commuters on the Mumbai-Nashik route as members — appointed regular traveler Priya Tuljapurkar (34) as a rail hostess for Panchvati Express.
Clad in a sari, Tuljapurkar helped passengers settle down, and also made them aware about maintaining cleanliness and discipline in the train.
“We thought there is a need to create awareness among passengers about cleanliness and general lessons on civility. We have finally found a volunteer who is ready to take up this responsibility,” said Bipin Gandi, president, Rail Parishad, who ideated the concept.
Tuljapurkar is a theatre artist by profession and is doing the job on an honorary basis. She said preferred the designation ‘civic director’ to rail hostess.
“I have been traveling on this route frequently and I thought by taking up this responsibility. I may be of help to commuters especially senior citizens, women and handicapped who are hesitant to take a train ride,” said Tuljapurkar, a Nashik resident.
Tuljapurkar plans to be a hostess thrice a week and though the initiative is limited to the AC class, members of the Rail Parishad are planning to extend it to the second-class compartments too.
“I have been travelling on this train for the past 25 years. This is a way of giving back to the railways,” Gandhi said.