The top boss of the Indian Railways paid a surprise visit to the city’s trains, stations and railway infrastructure on Tuesday — with mixed results.
SS Khurana — who is chairman of the railway board and former officio principal secretary to the Ministry of Railways at the Centre — was impressed with certain facilities, announcing on-the-spot cash awards, but also visited unexpected spots and pulled up officials for lack of cleanliness and hygiene.
The visit started at 10 am with Khurana laying a wreath on the 26/11 memorial inside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) premises, after which he boarded the first-class compartment of a local train and went to the railway car shed in Kurla.
“He inspected the facilities and was quite impressed with the local train maintenance schedules and the entire work culture and announced an on-the-spot award of Rs 1 lakh for the staff. The money will be distributed to the staff,” a senior railway official said.
After this, he came back to CST, inspecting the entire route on the way till CST.
He found that the train was nine minutes behind schedule. But motormen Pravin Tandon and guard PK Chaturvedi, with the help of the signaling staff, made up for the lost time and the train reached CST on time. He announced an award of Rs 5,000 for the motorman and guard.
Later in the afternoon, at CST station, Khurana, with Zonal General Manager BB Modgil and Divisional Railway Manager J.N. Lal and the entire officialdom in tow, entered the crammed motormen’s lobby and went straight into the canteen, a first by any person at this position.
He questioned the canteen staff, checked the refrigerator and told them to maintain better hygiene. “He has directed local officials to redesign the entire motormen’s lobby and make it air-conditioned,” said SS Siddiqui of Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh, who showed him the place around. “After this, he spoke to motormen about their problems and assured more recruitment.”
Khurana then went to the outstation trains’ platform and inspected the linen provided for the passengers in trains. He opened the folds of the piled-up linen at random and pulled up officials after finding that some of them were not clean. He then visited the base kitchen from where food is provided for the Rajdhani Express.