A few months back I had commented to someone about a marked improvement that I observed with the railway infrastructure. Stations, coaches and even railway lines were kept cleaner, considerably improving the whole experience of travelling on rails. Even the affair of consuming rail food, the quality of which stayed in the same dismal state, was less unpleasant thanks to the absence of stink.
Today, when I ventured on the platform of Ernakulam Junction station, I was overcome by nostalgic feelings from a bygone era, when welcomed with the strong smell of garbage and piss. I was travelling to Thalassery, a tough journey when you consider the intense summer heat that is again doubled by the railway coaches that are ingeniously constructed using materials which are the highest conductors of heat making you remember the images etched into the minds of public by a certain Mr. Dante. Adding to the heat is the perplexing railway schedule that somehow manages to consistently stop the exact train in which I get in to make way for every other trains that cross us, making the actual journey time taking double than the announced.
But today when I got into the train I had a bigger reason to be pissed off. It seems the rate of sleeper coach tickets when purchased on the spot for day time journeys has been insanely increased. That means a Rs 110 sleeper coach ticket will cost me Rs 195 now! This, for a service that no one uses, because nobody in their right mind will sleep in a daytime journey for reasons that I already detailed. Its a perfect recipe for certain harakiri. Buying general class tickets is out of question as most express trains have just two general coaches- three if we consider ladies' coach, but that one is out of bounds- in both extreme ends and they are filled in light speeds. There are atleast 12 sleeper coaches, most of which are either empty on day time or filled with passengers with general tickets.
Now if I am doing an advance reservation for sleeper tickets it will be costing me much lesser even with the reservation charge added in. But this is not possible when an unplanned journey has to be made in an emergency situation. So what railway essentially want is to squeeze passengers who are out of possibilities to make them part with as much money as possible. And the services are back to the terrible and despairing state it was in before.
A more ethical way to fill raiway coffers would be to make the employees stand on the exits with daggers and guns and extort money from exiting passengers threatening them of dire consequences...
... My Achcha Din has just begun. Will continue once I get chance to recharge the cell batteries. I found a plug point on train but as expected it doesn't work.