Come June, all those travelling by Indian trains, will find the experience all the more manageable as the Railway Ministry has announced that it will launch an all-encompassing app that aims to address all needs of passengers moving forward.
Most likely to be called HindRail, the app will provide users information such as the schedule of trains; the platform number where a particular train is slated to arrive or depart; information on delays; berth availability and more. Additionally, it will also boast a slew of additional features. For instance, users can book porters beforehand! They can also book hotel rooms, taxis, tour packages and other facilities.
According to the ministry, it is most likely to be released in June and the authorities are expecting it to be a hit among the passengers.
But HindRail isn’t the only initiative the Indian Railways is betting on this summer to make sure, at a time when most families head off on vacations, that it’s a smooth ride for the millions that rely on trains as their preferred mode of transport.
Here are some other initiatives that the authorities have introduced to make your travel that much better:
Reprieve for wait-listed passengers
Through a new programme called the Vikalp Scheme, railway authorities are hoping to make things a lot easier for those who have booked tickets but have been wait-listed. Under this new programme, those people are given the option to switching to another train (including premium ones like Rajdhani) at no additional costs. This is particularly helpful as it is peak season and getting reservations will be harder than ever.
Accessibility has been made a priority
One common complaint that gets leveled against the railways is that travel is still not quite friendly to those with movement disabilities. There is now a feature wherein one can book for a wheelchair online and then get that wheelchair free of cost.
Making cancellations easier
In case one wants to cancel their tickets, even that process has become much easier. The railways has announced that either by dialling 139 or through the IRCTC website, cancellations can be done for tickets that were booked via reserved ticket booking counters.
Water-chilling plants in stations
The rising temperature means additional discomfort for travellers. But if you are in Patna or nearby major stations, then you will be greeted with proper functional water chilling plants and water coolers. The Danapur division of East Central Railway (ECR) has installed chilling plants in Patna Junction, Rajendra Nagar Terminal and Pataliputra Junction. According to authorities, close to 2,500 litres of water is being supplied on an hourly basis.
Boarding points can be changed online
This is another initiative available to passengers across the country. Now you will be able to change your boarding point in up to 24 hours before you board the train and it can be done online.
The authorities are ensuring that people use technology to best utilise the facilities offered by the Indian railways. Case in point, you can head online to the official website and book a retiring room well in advance so you don’t have to deal with the sweltering heat.
On all matters of food
Authorities have been long working to ensure that they address the complaints of passengers about the quality of food served in the trains. To make sure passengers aren’t fleeced, the official railways Twitter account tweeted out the menu and the prices of the food served. Additionally, there are a number of other initiatives in the pipeline courtesy of a new catering policy that has been announced to improve the quality of the food served.
The ministry has announced that it will be setting up state-of-the-art base kitchens in various regions to ensure the food served is fresh and well-made. The responsibilities of cooking and the distribution of the food will be divided moving forward with distribution being undertaken by stakeholders from the hospitality industry and catering being handled by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation.
Introducing coaches with glass ceiling
For those travelling between Vishakhapatnam and Araku, there is a treat in store for them – the railways has launched Vistadome coaches that feature glass ceilings! These 40-seater coaches offer passengers panoramic views (thanks to glass ceiling whose opalescence is electrically controlled) and are being attached to the Kothavalasa-Kirandul passenger train every day at 7.15am.
After the official launch (it is now running on a trial basis), there will be two more such coaches attached to trains in Kashmir. Authorities have also announced that more AC three-tier coaches will be added to long-distance trains in the near-future. Reports have also noted that by July, the ministry will be added more double decker air conditioned service to ply on popular routes like New Delhi to Lucknow and will be dubbed Uday Express.