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Retrospection after 5 years into Passenger business defined in the Indian Railway Vision Statement 2020

By on February 22, 2014

The look and feel of Indian Railways in 2020 will be radically different from what it is today. This was the buzz word in the vision document created by Railway Board in the year 2009. It held about 25000 executive hours to produce this document, well-meaning and with a glimpse hope that one day it will come straight. It is unfortunate that vision has also changed with the change of regime. Today, no one in Indian Railways is talking about its Vision 2020 anymore. Was it a useless document?  Even though, this   document was placed before the Parliament but the present regime has lost sight of it. Vision document is having a thumb impression of the regime boss and continuing even after regime change is almost a taboo.  Let us look into was stated in the document towards passenger business and what has been achieved.

How a vision document can be set?

“An inspirational description of what an organisation would like to make or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serves as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action.”

Sl.No. Item from the document with comments of the status given below
1 Railways will eliminate shortages and meet the demand for rail travel in full catering to all classes of passenger removing congestion in coach
Shortage term has never been defined by Indian Railways than how any action plan for meeting full demand will be attained.
2 Eliminate queues for tickets with endeavor to see that no train traveler has to wait for more than 5 minutes for getting a ticket even in the unreserved category.
Indian Railways making the best effort of the technology to achieve this. For reserved accommodation, reservation through the net and mobile will help out Indian Railways to achieve the objective. IRCTC observed that only 30% of the visitors to their website are booking ticket and balance for information. This discovery will help in optimizing the server service.http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/Online-booking-of-rail-ticketsto-get-faster-from-September/articleshow/21871788.cms?referral=PMBut what about its concern for unreserved coaches.
3 Innovative marketing ideas and modern technology will be used to make tickets and travel information accessible by internet and mobile phones across the country within the next two years.
Availability of ticket and travel information is tending towards  meeting  the aim
4 Passenger trains must run at high speed in separate corridors   
It is more of a statement without any action plan to achieve the target. Separate corridor may only be possible with future visionary to occupy senior positions in Railway Board by 2050 and not before that.But I have not been able to understand why not put in place separate time corridor with distinct time period designated for running passenger service. At least this will improve average speed of a freight train.   http://www.railelectrica.com/status-of-train-speeds-over-indian-railways/time-corridor/
5 We envisage that many travelers would prefer railways over other modes of transport, thereby increasing Indian Railways’ passenger revenue
  Indian Railways offer a most economic mode of transport and hence he is always thought to prefer Railways.
6 Partnerships with State  and City Authorities will  be  established to  augment the  infrastructure  and manage suburban services under a single management
How Indian Railways have forgotten this mission and instead permitting formation of an entity like National Capital Rail Transport Corporation to fill the sub-urban traffic demand of commuters within a territory of 60Km. Kerala and Karnataka have shown interest in this area, but not getting on at all. Indian Railway shall stand up above minor irritants and show leadership before anyone else gets the hint.http://www.railelectrica.com/mass-rapid-transit-system/an-alternative-to-rapid-rail-transport-corporation-for-transport-need-of-national-capital-region/
7 A separate Indian Railways Metro Development Authority could be formed for this purpose Special attention must be paid to the needs of women, students, elderly and the physically disadvantaged.
Ill conceived and Forgotten. Indian Railways may not be able to fund the investment required in the development of Metro network.
8 Double-decker coaches and longer trains 
An important concept to decongest train for intercity travel. Indian Railways shall introduce more and more such trains. Seven pairs of such trains have so far been introduced.
9 Production coaches increased from the present level of 2500 per annum to at least 5000 per annum within the next 3 years to begin with and further to 10,000 per annum
Output of some 3500 coaches during 2013-14 is likely to be achieved as against vision of 5000 by 2012-13.
10 These would not only carry passengers from place A to place B but also act as business and  knowledge  centres  on wheels,  providing  facilities  like conferencing,  banking  and  other  IT-enabled services
Indian Railways shall remove this aspect of its vision. There has not been any dialogue from the business fraternity about the need of this.  
11 Art Museums on Wheels
It was more of the vision of a Minister of Railways from West Bengal to promote Rabindera Nath Tagore creations in the country. Visionary documentation is not necessary for this purpose.
12 Railway stations at all pilgrimage centres will be expanded and modernized
This is the need for all the stations depending on the daily passenger handling
  The Vision aims at raising the speed of regular passenger trains to 160-200 kmph on segregated routes, which will bring about a major transformation in train travel
This remains a vision statement in a different tone for the last many years, but with, only to the extent of taking out a feasibility survey. I am unable to understand why not immediately work to enhance maximum speed to 160 Kmph on the existing route which will increase line capacity and higher utilisation of rolling stock.Segregated routes can only be vision 2050 and not 2020.   
13 Large, well-designed passenger concourses with adequate and high-quality waiting space easily accessible to platforms, conference halls, business centres, retail shops, restaurants, entertainment and cultural facilities, museums and art galleries, and a variety of other attractions would make the passengers’ stay pleasant and memorable.  All this would be achieved using the PPP route, for which an attractive enabling policy and implementation structure will be presented shortly.
Complete failure of imagination
14 Our Catering services must make sure availability of hygienically prepared and nutritionally balanced food to passengers and cater to the diversity of India’s palate and pocket.  To achieve these goals, railway catering services will soon undergo major reform. 
Major reform introduced but with what gain?  
15 Large, well-designed passenger concourses with adequate and high-quality waiting space easily accessible to platforms, conference halls, business centres, retail shops, restaurants, entertainment and cultural facilities, museums and art galleries, and a variety of other attractions would make the passengers’ stay pleasant and memorable.
I am unable to understand why we want to hold on to the passenger to have a vision to make their stay comfortable. Indian Railway shall consider stay on train pleasant and memorable first.
16 In addition, at least 200 large stations would be developed to provide multifarious facilities like offices, retail, entertainment, restaurants, theatres, hotels, and health and education services. 
Complete failure even no one showing interest in PPP model because of changing philosophy of Government.

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