Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Railroaded

I have mentioned the insidious quota system that the Indian Railways seems to operate. Internet booking passengers have the first look at the toilet ends of the train. There is nothing wrong with that - perhaps, as I mentioned earlier, internet booking travellers are more likely to suffer from incontinence - considering they don't have the ability to stand in one of the longish lines of the Indian Railways for booking. That's a rant, I admit.

But think of it. Those who book their tickets on the internet are doing Indian railways a great service - by not crowding at their counters, by reducing the load on their infrastructure and by contributing extra revenue (25 to 50 odd rupees extra on every ticket booked). They are, by and large people who can pay. So, why not make them pay? Let them chose their seats and pay a premium for that as well - instead of this insidious quota system. (Earlier, when internet bookings were made the seats always used to be in the middle of the bogie - but of late, it has always been towards the ends - something that cannot happen randomly - not when there are 700 odd seats available. For the record, a regular bogie seats about 72 passengers. So, for sure there is some sort of a "quota".)

Why would an organization have an army worth of people to help people book tickets? When there are others who can do it - or self service as well. Why would an organization keep on accumulating people to do work like this, when by eliminating all the ticket booking clerks (or
outsourcing it) you can save tons of money.

But that would be missing the point would it not. Indian railways is not an organization that exists to transport people and goods from one part of the country to another. It exists to satisfy the whims and fancies of the constituencies of whichever railways minister rules. So, it will keep adding more employees, never make them work hard. With The passengers and the goods are incidental. Which is why it operates out of gross inefficiencies with little or no regard to what the passengers want.

With the number of people Indian Railways has, it can get all the railways of the world to outsource all its work to Indian Railways. But no, thats not a priority, atleast not until the current railway minister realizes her ambition of becoming Chief Minister.

If you measured the growth difference between China and India in terms of improvements in railways, it would pretty much reflect the way the countries have grown too. We are still stuck at the steam loco stage while China has entered the future.

1 comment:

indicaspecies said...

Get your point but I appreciate and am astounded that it is these same railways that carry 20 million passengers on a daily basis!