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Rediff.com  » News » 'You Put The Common Man On Discomfort'

'You Put The Common Man On Discomfort'

By SHOBHA WARRIER
July 08, 2024 11:05 IST
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'You can focus on Vande Bharat but focus on the common man too.'
'You can have both. They are mutually exclusive.'

IMAGE: Commuters travel in a crowded AC compartment of a suburban train in Mumbai. Photograph: Niharika Kulkarni/Reuters
 

People overcrowding the reserved AC coaches in trains and people with no reservation sleeping on the floor of the AC coaches is a common sight these days.

By focusing only on Vande Bharat, did the government totally neglect the way the common man travelled?

Sudhanshu Mani, who is called the father of the Vande Bharat trains, says YES!

"I am personally in favour of all trains be made AC but with reduced fare for the common man, it's possible and feasible," Sudhanshu Mani -- who retired in 2018 as the general manager of the Integral Coach Factory -- tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier.

Last month in Chennai, many people with reserved tickets to travel to Howrah, could not board the train as the train was fully occupied by people with no reservation.
It was not an isolated incident these days. It is happening all over the country.
Is this happening because the Railways has reduced the number of sleeper coaches and unreserved compartments?

Yes, this is because the government has taken steps to reduce the number of the second class and increase the AC compartments. This is the upshot of that decision.

It was a bad decision. Instead, if they want only AC trains, they should make all trains AC and reduce the fare for common man.

I am personally in favour of all trains be made AC but with reduced fare for the common man, it's possible and feasible.

Merely by increasing AC coaches and reducing general class coaches, you put the common man on discomfort.

And that's what has happened now.

It is a wrong policy which the government took. There is a lot of noise because social media picked it quickly.

IMAGE: A crowded general class coach on a passenger train. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

In India, majority of the population travel by train and they cannot afford AC coaches. Do you feel the government shouldn't have neglected non-AC coaches with their fixation on AC coaches?

I would say, there is a mid-way path.

I don't mind making all the trains with only AC coaches. In fact, you should do that. But you should make it affordable for common people also.

Take a loss. Anyway, you are taking a loss in passenger travel. Take further loss and give them comfort.

Tomorrow, when India develops, they will also have money. Then, you can increase the fare. Yes, we can't hope to be a developed country with common men travelling like they are made to at present.

Now, you should reduce the AC fare so that AC travel is affordable to common people also. Instead, what have you done?

You have increased AC coaches, and reduced the general coaches without reducing the fare of the AC coaches. So, obviously the common man is in discomfort.

IMAGE: Railway workers clean a Vande Bharat Express train. Photograph: Mohd Zakir/ANI Photo

People also feel that for the last few years, the focus of the government was only on Vande Bharat which is an expensive train. Do you feel so?

Yes, the government has been focussing a lot on Vande Bharat. That's fine with me as it is my baby after all. Let them do that.

But greater focus is required on safety and track upgrades, and, of course, the travel requirements of the common people.

IMAGE: The Ranchi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express at the Ranchi railway station. Photograph: ANI Photo

The general public blame Vande Bharat for the current situation...

Why blame Vande Bharat for this?

Vande Bharat is for higher end travellers.

It is the focus of the government, which is also okay. But it cannot be the only focus.

If Vande Bharat is for those who have the money, what should the government have done for the general public?

That's why I said, you can focus on Vande Bharat but focus on the common man too.

You can have both. They are mutually exclusive.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

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