Now, catch your train driving a golf-cart

LUCKNOW: The last time Naseema Bano decided to undertake a train journey from Charbagh station, she walked nearly 400 m to get to her coach. Wincing Twitter Facebook Share Email Print Save Comment with pain due to her chronic arthritis, Bano made up her mind not to travel again in a hurry. Come January, 2010, however, Naseema Bano could well plan another trip to meet her grandchildren. Thanks to the Northern Railways’ (NR) plan of introducing free golf-cart services in all A1, A and B class railway stations across Uttar Pradesh, ailing, handicapped and elderly passengers are likely to get a free ride to their designated train compartments. Conceptualised by the Lucknow division of NR in tandem with Delhi based Carrieall Technologies India Pvt Ltd, the first consignment of golf-carts is likely to arrive by the end of December, 2009 and will first cater to the A1 grade cities of Varanasi and Lucknow. Accommodating four passengers at a time, in Lucknow, the carts will ferry passengers between platforms 1 and 5 through the connecting subways. Platforms 6 and 7, which are not connected by subways, however, will remain unconnected for the time being, in view of passenger safety. “The implementation of the scheme has been done in accordance with the policy decision to this effect by the ministry of Railways in New Delhi.

Starting the services depends upon how soon the suppliers give us the carts,” says Neeraj Sharma, senior divisional commercial manager, NR. Well begun but half baked. While passengers stand to benefit from the implementation of this scheme, the railways look ill-prepared to take on additional traffic at a station that is already bursting at the seams. The designated subways may accommodate the four-seater carts, but will leave little space for pedestrians to walk and railway officials to transfer luggage. Parking arrangements for the consignment of 101 carts and making arrangements to charge the battery-operated vehicles are other aspects that the railways are yet to attend to. On a hopeful note, a railway source says, “Once Carrieall Technologies delivers the carts to us, the operational issues can be ironed out within a week.” But even as the railways approach the matter on a positive note, the manufacturer remains unwilling to commit to a definite date for the delivery of the first three to four vehicles.”I will be travelling to Lucknow to work out the final details.

The first few carts should be delivered before the end of the year,” says Rajesh Kumar, director, Carrieall Technologies India Pvt Ltd. If implemented, the golf-cart services stand to win the railways a lot of passenger goodwill. The lack of infrastructural preparedness and dependency on the manufacturer, however, is likely to put a spanner in the works for a bright idea that can otherwise enhance the quality of public life.

WR to fine, jail litterbugs

Clean up act: WR to fine, jail litterbugs
Roana Maria Costa, TNN 18 July 2009, 03:21am IST
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MUMBAI: The next time you decide to conveniently push a wrapper out of the narrow grille of a suburban train, splatter chewed paan aimlessly on a

platform, or drop leftovers on the train floor, stop. Western Railway (WR) has decided to start a cleanliness drive where you can be fined, jailed or both, for any of the above offences.

Besides allowing the RPF to take action against offenders (after they are produced before a court), WR is is working towards empowering its staff-ticket checkers (TCs) and stations masters (SMs)- to get rid of filthy, smelly stations and locals.

The move comes close on the heels of a similar campaign launched by the Central Railway (CR). Long overdue, this comes after countless commuters SMSed their anguish over filthy stations and demanded that paan and gutka be banned on trains and station areas get cleaner.

After sending people to jail for trespassing on the tracks under Article 156 of the Indian Railways Act, officials said that they won’t hesitate to do the same to litterbugs under Article 145(b). Under the Act, a commuter can be imprisoned for one month, fined Rs 250 or both if caught creating nuisance at railway stations.

“More than 500 text messages have come in from commuters complaining against dirty trains and stations. We will start with awareness drives and do not rule out arresting offenders as a last resort,” said chief public relations officer, WR, S S Gupta.

At present, each train is washed internally and externally once in 10 days and swept every day. But the effect is lost in a few trips. Officials hope that since commuters themselves have expressed a desire for cleaner stations, the drive won’t face resistance.

WR has also written to the BMC to authorise its staff under the cleanliness and sanitation by-laws to fine offenders. Gupta said the civic body has shown a positive approach. “If a commuter is caught littering, he can be fined anything between Rs 100-200 on the spot,” said Gupta.

Want a porter? Punch numbers for quick service

Want a porter? Punch numbers for quick service – Tatanagar porters reach tech junction, use mobile phones to build rapport with customers

Jamshedpur, Jan. 25: Iqbal Khan (Amitabh Bachchan) in Coolie had had to struggle for a living — be it attending to passengers or spearheading movements for his rights.

But that was 1983. Two decades later, the new-age porters at Tatanagar railway station have hi-tech methods to keep their business going.

They are now busy building better rapport with the customers with the help of their cell phones. The porters have started distributing their numbers to customers and are focusing on better customer service.

Om Prakash, a porter at the Tatanagar railway station, has been working for the past 13 years. The profession had not been lucrative enough for him till a year ago. Then, he bought a mobile phone.

Today, he believes that his earning has multiplied and a few passengers
recognise him for his “ good customer service”.

“Whenever I attend to a passenger, I give them my number. This has helped me gain a few customers, a decent number of them being businessmen and shopkeepers.
The passengers give me a call sometime before the train is to arrive with their train name so that I can be ready to carry their luggage. A few people also call me to ask for information about the train timings, which I do in order to maintain the rapport,” said Om Prakash.

The Tatanagar railway station has a dearth of porters.

After the railways started promoting the porters to the post of gangmen, about 27 of them have remained so far in a span of a year. There are a number of people who are not registered porters but have started working as one to make a living.

“About 110 porters in the past six months have been promoted and we are just 27 now. One will no more find the crowd of porters that used to crowd compartments on the arrival of trains. We are too few in numbers. Also some people from outside have also started carrying luggage as a way of earning. Competition for us has become tough so we had to look for our own ways of survival,” said Ma Canker, another porter at the station.

Hence the new tech-savvy avatar of porters.

Maintaining a mobile was difficult initially, said some, but with lower call
charges, it has become easier for the porters.

“Socha nahi tha ki itna accha hoga (I did not think it will yield such good
results). It was a liability first but now I find a Rs 1,000-1,500 rise in my
monthly income. Now we are just a call away,” said Om Prakash.

“The world is developing so why not the porters? I think it is an excellent idea and it’s good that uneducated people like porters are also trying hi-tech methods for survival,” said Amarjeet Arora, a local businessman at the station.

Inspired by these four porters, others are also planning to invest in the gadget that is sure to bring them better income. “Once I have the money, I will buy a cell phone so that even we can be a call away from the passengers, especially at night,” said one Gajadhar Pandey.