From spic and span interiors to spotless livery and sparkling toilets, the Gatimaan Express was at its best just before its inaugural run on Tuesday morning from Delhi to Agra. By evening, on its return leg of the journey, the country’s fastest train had come face to face with its biggest challenge — the Indian traveller.
While passengers couldn’t end gushing about the airline-like service on the train, many of them had contributed in ravaging its pristine state. The toilets were left muddy, the wash basins were clogged by pan masala spit and food packets and empty plastic bottles could be seen lying on the floors and seats.
Worried that its prestigious Gatimaan Express could meet the fate of another premium train – the Mahamana Express – which was launched a few months ago and ravaged by travellers, the Northern Railway plans to start a large-scale awareness programme to ensure that passengers keep the train in a good condition.
“To ensure that a similar situation like the one seen in Mahamana Express doesn’t arise, we are going to start a programme to generate awareness among passengers,” Arun Arora, Divisional Railway Manager, Delhi told The Hindu.
The Mahamana Express, between Delhi and Varanasi, which boasts of refurbished and aesthetically sleek coaches with state-of-the-art facilities such as modern toilets, controlled discharged water taps, LED lights and music systems, was launched with much fanfare in January this year. However, within a fortnight of its inaugural run, passengers had left the premium train in a mess. Not only did the wash basins get choked by betel-nut juice, even the walls were stained by it. Apart from this, some passengers even made away with the expensive fittings and furnishings from the train.
The Northern Railway doesn’t want to see the Gatimaan Express going on the same track of shabbiness and hopes a sustained awareness programme would bring some behavioural change among passengers.
“The first thing we plan to do is to start making announcements about keeping the train clean through the passenger information system,” said Mr. Arora. He said that in the next step, radio jingles could be aired requesting passengers to keep the train clean. “We can also make short films on awareness that can be shown to passengers through the multimedia system available in the Gatimaan Express,” he said.