New Delhi: Expressing concern over unhygienic condition at rail premises, a parliamentary panel on Monday said cleanliness of stations and trains is "far from satisfactory and is a major area of concern".
While recognising the fact that the massive size of the railway network makes it a Herculean task to physically check each and every station, the committee has suggested that the Railway Ministry can set up special inspection teams at all levels to carry out random checks at stations and suggest corrective measures wherever required.
The Standing Committee on Railways in its latest report submitted in Parliament today observed that many complaints regarding passenger amenities relate to lack of safe drinking water at stations and on trains.
The 31-member committee during their visit to Allahabad station had found the drinking water area to be very unhygienic. At the station, bottled water was available but priced very high which may be beyond the reach of the ordinary passengers.
In summer, arrangements must be made to ensure cold drinking water at all stations, the panel suggested.
The committee said guidelines for providing passenger amenities should be updated and reviewed regularly so that amenities can be upgraded, commensurate with the development of latest technologies and innovations in hospitality so as to fulfil the increased aspirations of the travelling public.
Railways has categorised stations into seven categories (from A to F), which is largely linked to the annual passenger earning.
Seeking a revision of the existing categorisation of stations, the committee said financial earnings should not be the sole basis for classification of stations; factors like historical and cultural importance, geographical location also need to be taken into account while deciding on the categorisation of a station.
The report stated 77 per cent stations of the rail network fall in the E and F category of stations, which effectively means that they receive the least amount of passenger amenities even though they are used by a larger number of people.
The committee recommended that at least basic facilities like platform shelter, proper seating, toilets, lighting, fans, waiting halls, water coolers, public address system should be made available at E and F grade stations on a priority basis and in a time-bound manner so that maximum number of passengers can benefit from them.
The committee suggested the facilities available in a particular station should be prominently displayed at the station concerned along with the contact number of nodal authority for redressal of passengers` grievances.
Noting that passenger amenities in railways are not provided by a single department but by multiple departments, the panel said a single nodal department should be entrusted with the task of providing passenger amenities both at the stations and on board to ensure a faster and efficient delivery mechanism since it would obviate the time consuming inter-department coordination and avoid duplication.