Safar ya suffer?

Guest post by Eknath Makne:

My ex-colleague-friend Anuradha Khanna-Pentapalli invited bloggers to share theri memorable incidents on train. Until three years ago, two incidents in which I had close shave with death, remained unforgettable ones. With steep rise in number of commuters on local trains in recent history, daily journeys to workplace have been offering slow deaths in installments. Hence, the two instances are no more memorable ones...

Shashi Tharoor's tweet of Air India services being cattle class may have found many takers. But if you ask a daily local train commuter, whose on board agonies just refuse to die, the former Union Minister's platitude appears to be sheer buffoonery of the air carrier. Thanks to 'surplus congestion' inside a local train due to soaring populace, adjectives like arduous, tiresome, painstaking, etc. have started falling short while describing journeys on board these days. Every passing moment adds to bad memories of life, while time spent on old (or is it ancient?) narrow bridges connecting one platform to another makes us think if there would be any 'stampede' during peak hours.

Measures taken by railways like introducing 15-car trains or increasing the number of 12-car ones, have proven to be futile exercises. As the revenue increases, benefits of the same are not seen being passed on to commuters in the form of developed infrastructure.

For instance, if old narrow bridges have turned into death traps during rush hours, are we not going to usher in wider ones or is it we want somebody to die in stampedes just to underline the seriousness of the issue?

Many of us may have seen flicks in which wife of a police official says, “subah jab maang mein sindur bharti hoon toh pata nahin hota ki vapas laut aayenge ya nahin”. Why should our lives resemble that of a jaanbaaz sipahi while everyone here wants to sing “yunhi kat jayega safar saath...?

Roots of all these worries lie in rising population, something the railways can not curb. But within their limits, the authorities should look for long-run solutions in lieu of patting their own back for taking half measures. With rail budget around the corner, lets hope Mamata di 'chugs' out 'on-track' measures responding to our not-so-mishti litany...