From the time I was a kid, trains have been a part of our travel plans. Of course, air travel at that time was unthinkable from a cost perspective and buses were pretty bad as were the roads. Today air travel is affordable, more or less and buses have leapt in quality. Funnily enough, our roads are still terrible (which are mostly government controlled), but the buses and cars (over which the government has no control) have improved. The airports (mostly government with some exceptions coming up) have remained terrible, the airlines (ha) have got better.
What I like about the railways is the online ticket booking service. Perhaps the greatest innovation in Indian railway history especially considering they treat their tracks secondarily as toilet dispensers.
Yes, so much can be changed. The railway platforms can be so much better in terms of their cleanliness. The trains could be so much better, faster instead of focusing only on lower fares. And they come up with the hare brained idea of having 3 side berths. In the last 20 or 30 odd years train speeds have barely gone up, if at all. Buses are overtaking trains; that was not true until some years back.
Perhaps the railways need to think about their passengers as customers, not as aam janta or vegetables.