NEW DELHI: Long accustomed to the colonial legacy of travel in luxurious saloons, railway officials will now have to rub shoulders with the “cattle class” in general compartments.
Railways minister Suresh Prabhu took to Twitter late on Friday and made the announcement to mark the completion of two years of the NDA government. He said, “General managers and divisional railway managers have been instructed to travel in general class for a better understanding of problems faced by common passengers during the Rail Humsafar week.”
Sections in the top rail bureaucracy are not amused. “It has been a part of the official drill to travel in engines and general compartments and make surprise checks at stations. But we have never made a song and dance about this”, an official said.
From Mahatma Gandhi to Lal Bahadur Shastri, several politicians have travelled General class. “The railways minister’s intentions are noble, but his instructions are unlikely to be implemented in letter and in spirit. The directive will be more problematic for the common man, who will be thrown out to make way for officials and their subordinates,” said Sanjay Pandhi, working president of the Indian Railways Loco Running men Organisation.