Wifi at more Indian Railway stations soon

Vashishta Johri

Vashishta Johri

NEW YORK: Indian Railways plans to equip 400 major railway stations across the nation with wifi as a sequel to an agreement with global giant Google. More railway stations will now have Wifi facility under this plan

The facility also will be provided in major express trains. About 40 stations have been identified in Southern Railway and work has been completed in 14 stations so far, a top official of the Indian Railways Vashishta Johri, said here.

Vashishta Johri, General Manager of Southern Railway, said in an interview that passenger safety is being given top priority and CCTV cameras are being installed to monitor all movements besides strengthening the Railway Protection Force in strategic locations to avoid any untoward incident.

Following the murder of an IT employee in Nungambakkam railway station in Chennai, the Indian Railways has sanctioned funds to various regions under the Nirbhaya scheme to provide CCTV cameras in railway stations. Also integrated security system has been introduced in several major railway stations where anyone entering the station will be thoroughly frisked with metal detectors as in airports by the cops and their baggage checked by an advanced scanner.

More than 1000 Railway Protection Force personnel are deployed every day in the stations and 378 passenger trains are provided with police escort in every car. A special toll-free help line is created and the cops will access the passengers within 30 minute of the call, he said.

Johri said the Southern Railway has introduced bio toilets in passenger trains where human waste is converted into gas and water with the help of tanks fitted below these toilets. This prevents the fall of human waste on the tracks adding to pollution.

As an experiment, all trains running between Rameshwaram and Manamadurai are now discharge free and are fitted with bio toilets under the “clean station green station” concept. This is the first of its kind in Indian Railways and by 2019 all passenger trains will be equipped with bio toilets. To add to passenger comforts during festival season, Southern Railway is adding more special trains to reduce the congestion with a different price range depending on the season of the year.

The Southern Railway has introduced e-catering facility where passengers can order food from various favorite multi-cuisine restaurants using the app and the food will be delivered at the next station stop. Also, a new variety of kids’ meal called Janani Seva was also introduced in the catering menu keeping the welfare of children in mind, he said.

To add to the comfort of the traveling passengers, air-conditioned waiting rooms with child care facility are being introduced in stations at a nominal cost. These centers will have clean restrooms and place to keep baggage.

“We had seen lots of run over cases whereby those crossing the tracks were either using cell phones or headsets to listen to music thereby failing to notice the oncoming trains. As a result they get fatally hit by the speeding vehicles. To stop this dangerous trend, we distributed flyers in 25 locations and also educational institutions to highlight the need to exercise caution and safety. We are happy that these fatal incidents have come down drastically,” he added.

He along with 20 general managers and GM level senior officers were invited to attend the five day executive program on management at Carnegie Melon University. The team also visited Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan and studied first hand passenger amenities, upkeep and maintenance, commercial use of station space and related areas of common interest.

They were also invited to tour the General Electric loco manufacturing unit in Eerie facility Philadelphia where the GMs studied firsthand the advantages of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) locomotives which India is beginning to put to use Diesel Electric Multiple units.

Prakash M Swamy