BJP’s ‘Making Railways Better’ initiative gathers huge response

New Delhi:  Do you think India needs a bullet train at this point in time? Who is responsible for dirty trains? Limit entries to prevent crowding of platform, bring platform charges at par with airports. Charge people more for tickets, make railways compensate passengers for late trains.

These were some of the questions and suggestions that have emerged from the group – Making Railways Better – started by BJP’s communications cell. The party started this initiative after connecting with over one lakh people through its governance initiative Transform India on Local Circles, a web-based platform.

Given that over 2 crore passengers use trains every day, the Making Railways Better group is growing fast. The group, which started just over two weeks ago, already had over 6,402 members on Sunday, up from 3,000 members on Thursday.

In fact, based on the feedback of its members, lack of cleanliness in coaches, stations and toilets have emerged as the biggest problem that passengers face.

Other issues included unhygienic food, difficulty in online/offline ticket booking, lack of safety on tracks which lead to frequent accidents, corruption and discretion of train ticket examiners, lack of punctuality of trains and crowding of stations and platforms by people without travel and platform tickets.

“The focus of the initiative is to have collective governance, identify the root cause and suggest solutions,” said Sachin Taparia, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Local Circles. The white papers are then sent to the concerned Ministers and Ministries.

For instance, for the Railway Budget, the Transform India initiative had provided 16 inputs from which 11 were accepted. While some inputs were ongoing proposals such as foreign direct investment in Railways, higher use of IT, use of e-procurement, others included anti-populist proposals such as the need to limit the number of passengers in a coach, free passes, and concessions.

Incidentally, BJP’s IT cell has also been involved in an initiative with the Railway Ministry.

A day before the Budget, Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda inaugurated the Railways’ page on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. They also launched a phone number where people could dial in and hear the railway budget.

When contacted, Arvind Gupta, Head-IT Cell, BJP, said that these initiatives will help people give their feedback to the Railways, while the phone number was event-based.

Fan clubs of Railway enthusiasts such as Indian Railways Fan Club Association are also involved in giving feedback to the Railways.