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.