Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Sapthagiri M ‏@SapthagiriM Nov 27
Neatness that I hardly saw before in railways stations.. Kacheguda right now.. @SCRailwayIndia @sureshpprabhu

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Ministry of Railways ‏@RailMinIndia Nov 27
NDLS- HWH is part of most congested section, long awaited capacity enhancement work is priority of MR @sureshpprabhu

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Arvind Agarwal ‏@arvind_agarwal Nov 27
Railways offers subsidised pilgrimage packages.
@sureshpprabhu @RailMinIndia

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Gowtham ‏@gowthaam Nov 27
Travelling in train after a year in 3rd AC.can see visible difference in cleanliness in coach & beds.Thnx @sureshpprabhu ji & team

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
PRASANTA KUMAR JENA ‏@jena_prasanta Nov 27
@RailMinIndia @sureshpprabhu Fact is bigger the size more difficult to transform. Rly has set a foot in long ambitious transformation path

Suresh Prabhu ‏@sureshpprabhu Nov 27
Debate in LS @narendramodi raises it to greater height.Lets worship constitution as holy book to be followed in spirit by all to progress

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Parag sharma ‏@paragjournalist Nov 27 View translation
सच में @sureshpprabhu sir आपने जैसा कहा वैसा कर रहे हैं We r on track sir, हम दुनिया को दिखाएंगे, भारत क्या है..

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
DRM Bilaspur ‏@DRMBilaspur Nov 27
30% growth witnessed in the number of passengers at Akaltara Railway Station during fortress check.

Suresh Prabhu ‏@sureshpprabhu Nov 27
Suresh Prabhu Retweeted @GMSouthernrailway
Very important to take care of public health post flooding.IR working on it

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
SouthCentralRailway ‏@SCRailwayIndia Nov 27
@RailMinIndia @sureshpprabhu
More than 60% of the targeted #RainwaterHarvesting pits constructed on SCR

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Ministry of Railways ‏@RailMinIndia Nov 27
Morgan Stanley report on Indian Railways : The Next India – The Return of the Transportation Behemoth

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Raja ‏@Raja_Sw Nov 27
Still a lot that can be improved in IR. Long road still ahead. But things seem to be improving. @sureshpprabhu @RailMinIndia @drmsbc @GMSWR

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
vadakkus ‏@vadakkus Nov 27
vadakkus Retweeted CPRO Central Railway
The biggest e-commerce entity in India by far, ever since its inception.

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
SouthCentralRailway ‏@SCRailwayIndia Nov 27
SouthCentralRailway Retweeted General Manager SCR
@RailMinIndia @sureshpprabhu
#EnergyConservation #energyefficiency #GoGreen #COP21 #GreenEnergy

Now, Suresh Prabhu, the Railway Minister of India, is one politician who looks ‘intensely’ busy on Twitter – as his Twitter feed for this day (or any other day) suggests.

And these are just some of a barrage of Tweets on his Twitter page – tweeted (and retweeted) by Mr. Suresh Prabhu on November 27.

And he does so daily.

And the issues that he looks concerned about sound holistic – clean trains and platforms, other cleanliness measures in different railway services, reforms in Indian Railways, the efforts for a ‘turnaround’ story, capacity enhancements, improvement in operational statistics, energy conservation, social obligations like ‘rain water harvesting’ and so on – and the concern of passengers’ well-being – but there is a catch.

See this:

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu – Mr. Prabhu, no response yet. 12581 Delhi time is 12.20 pm. Reached thr at 2.15 pm. N it happens daily wid many trains.

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu – 6th tweet 2day – no response from u who is very active on Twitter. 12581 Delhi time -12.20 pm. 1.30 pm n it is still GZB

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu – 5th tweet 2day – 12581 almost not running – well behind it’s Delhi time of 12.20 pm – the IR shame continues

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu – 5th tweet today – already delayed 12581 is now crawling post Aligarh – looks more misery ahead

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu -my 3rd tweet 2 u 2day-ppl say n u also retweet-but y sum trains get delayd daily-like this 12581-a routine-still no respite

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu People say n you also retweet -but y some trains get delayed daily-like this 12581-a daily routine-today, it’s already 3 hrs!

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu People say, you also retweet – but y some trains get delayed daily-like this 12581-a daily routine-today, it’s already 3 hrs!

These eight tweets were my experimental call to check the ‘social sensitivity of social media alertness’ of our Railway Minister – who by any possible means – looks very Twitter savvy – in using social media as an effective tool of his governance.

But as expected, he did not respond to even a single one – because they were pointing to a well known, universal shame of Indian Railways that all Indian Railways (IR) officials conveniently and habitually deny/ignore/pass – that almost of the trains in India don’t run on time – that travelling by many trains are considered an absolute wastage of time as they run delayed by hours – day after day – just name them and one can count many of them – in every part of the country the Indian Railways is operating in – and that includes almost the whole of the country. There are trains that are cursed to get delayed regularly – the ‘ignorable gems’ in eyes of IR’s apathetic officers.

Here, in my case, I started my train journey at 10:30 PM on November 26 night. Though it is a superfast train (Number – 12581), people warned me of its bad reputation of running late almost daily. But I thought to give it a try, as I wanted to reignite the romance of a train journey after a long time and prompted by ‘prompt tweets’ of Suresh Prabhu, I thought I should take a chance.

But came November 27 morning, and my hopes had some serious beating. When I woke up, I found the train was behind its schedule while at Kanpur and was running late by some 2.30 hours.

Well, I had an important meeting scheduled in the evening and I started feeling sort of unease. But then, I also knew I could not do anything. Various precedents of my yore have told me that one should never trust the trains run by Indian Railways, especially in crisis hours. 99 per cent chances they will fail you. After all, you can gauge sentiments on this line by the fact that a train running one or two hours late is considered ‘on time’ by the standards of Indian Railways.

While my unease was growing, I thought to use it to ‘gauge’ the sensitivity of Mr. Railway Minister. Starting from around 7 AM, I tweeted tagging Mr. Prabhu around 8 times, expecting some response from him.

But it did not have to come and it didn’t come. Either Mr. Prabhu didn’t see any of my tweets, something that is hard to believe going by the kinds he retweets daily, or he conveniently ignored them.

And that clears one thing – the fact that is known widely – that our politicians don’t see or don’t like to see the ‘uncomfortable facts’.

There is nothing wrong in what Mr. Prabhu does with his Twitter page. Even if selectively, he is active there. No one can expect he can do some miracle or can turnaround the massive public organization with massive losses run by the Indian government in such a short time with most of its senior Railway officials turning a blind eye to what should be treated as criminal offences in a civilized society.

We know a ‘totally’ politicised Indian Railways cannot accommodate its vast network of trains to manage ‘running efficiency and timeliness’ with the poor infrastructure it has right now but just to give indications of a positive symbolism, Mr. Prabhu could have responded to my tweets (and should respond even to negative or critical tweets).

What do you say Mr. Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu)?

Suresh Prabhu Collage

Featured Image Courtesy: Collage prepared from screenshots of IR’s website, Mr. Suresh Prabhu’s Twitter page and my tweets

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Sounds of different frequencies, each of them loud, sound of a train running at around 100 Kmph, sound of pantry-car waiters and the train staff making in and out of the coaches, and sound of the passengers making informed queries and expressing strong displeasure!

It was not routine as usual for any train in India, a Rajdhani Express train in this case, after a recent price hike.

This time, it was in the name of improving catering standards. The Indian Railways had just revised the catering charges in premium trains (Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duranto) and the TTEs (ticket checkers) were a harassed lot. They had to issue receipt of the difference of the amount (after the fare revision) to every passenger who had got the ticket booked before October 16.

Given the rush for the Indian trains where every ticket of almost trains is booked within two days of the opening of the reservation window of two months for a train, almost every passenger in the train had his ticket booked before October 16.

Stung by the sudden pressure of increased work, of writing and issuing almost a thousand receipts, TTEs were not even asking for the mandatory IDs for the electronically booked tickets.

This increased fare was reason for the high-pitched sound coming from the heterogenous lot of passengers in every coach – varying frequencies, modulated tones, but each voicing out displeasure as loud as possible and this displeasure was forcing the catering staff of the train to make rounds to the pantry car, keeping them on toes.

And it was for a reason.

Apart from timeliness, a factor that is certainly uncertain with the Indian trains, one can also say so about the quality of the catering, that the food being served in Indian trains, even in premium trains like Rajdhani, is simply substandard.

It was the second day of the quality mission of the Indian Railways but the ‘quality’ was conspicuous by its absence. Those regularly travelling by such (premium) trains were flatly saying that whatever that was there in the name of ‘quality’ had certainly come down, in quantity, in quality. And to add to the misery, these passengers were made to shell out extra bucks to improve the quality.

Given the quality of food being served and the menu items in the platter, the fare revision, in fact, deserved a reduction in the ticket prices.

Passengers were feeling cheated.

That was hitting them more, being the immediate instigating factor raising the protesting voices.

And on that day, in the Rajdhani Express, by certain turn of events, I had the chance to sit for a while in the pantry-car of the train.

It was more maddening there than the situation in the coaches, something that is always the case. This time, it was heightened up. The increased tension in the atmosphere there had its origin in two reasons.

Incidentally, the food packets delivered by the base kitchen of the government run catering outfit were less than the passenger count and the pantry-car staff was in overdrive to meet the requirement. Okay, it was normal to happen so. But it was on a day when there was additional mounting pressure on the pantry-car staff.

It was happening along side the chaos of the anger of the passengers spilling over in the aisles of the coaches. On target were the pantry-car employees who were still supplying the substandard food products, even if the passengers were now paying a revised, increased fare in the name of an upgraded menu.

After putting curries in packets, weights of two packets were taken to confirm if they were according to the Indian Railways norms. The ‘observation’ based random sampling was applied for over 100 packets cooked on-board. And the sample size was just 2!

There was no dearth of raw material (of reputed brands). In fact, it was enough to be wasted and was being wasted. A clear factor that puts the quality of food in trains under scanner is hygiene and certainly, the way food was being cooked and packed there, it wasn’t hygienic.

The staff there, though extra cautious, was in avoidable rush to get things done to get free soon. Putting on gloves while using hands – I could not see it being practiced. The floor of the pantry-car was littered with spill-over from the cooking platform. Utensils and grills were kept below the platform, that was, again, unclean.

And above it, the supervisors, panicked, by the increasing count of complaints in the complaint book, were making regular visits to the pantry-car, shouting at waiters and cooks, making them even more irregular and harsh on the ‘quality’ of the job.

Wastage – good quality raw material for a food cooked and served with unhygienic practices – and don’t ask about taste. Food in trains – it is simply never expected to be tasty.

Then there was another serious issue, based on something that happened there, in fact a breach of trust, an illegal act, for which, even lawsuits are filed – maintaining sanctity of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, in cooking, in packaging, and in distribution.

Though, one can never say it is followed honestly at a place serving both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, it is expected from the outlets charging you premium to maintain this sanctity, and catering services in Rajdhani Express trains should, certainly, come under this category.

But, alas!

Vegetarian and non-vegetarian, the cooking was on. There I saw this silly act. One of the cooks preparing the non-vegetarian curry approached the cook preparing ‘chapatis’ (unleavened circular bread made from wheat flour) to use his cooking stove top to roast chicken. And on the same grill, being used to inflate chapatis, soon, the other cook was roasting chickens. Once he was finished with his roasting stuff, the ‘chapati’ cook was back to his work of inflating chapatis on the same grill.

For those who are strictly vegetarian, such practices are a massive breach of trust. Even for those, who are not strictly vegetarian (egg-eating people come in this category), they too, will not accept chapatis cooked like this if they come to know this. I come in this category.

I protested on this act. I said it was a serious issue. I told them to exclude ‘chapatis’ from my plate. I requested them to replace all the ‘chapatis’ cooked after the chicken was roasted on the grill in the vegetarians platters. Although they said they would do so, I knew they wouldn’t do so.

After it, I had to leave the pantry-car for my berth.

On a day, high on complaints, when passengers were dumping and deriding the food for its quality, they could not have afforded another setback point – delayed delivery, and cooking chapatis for almost 100 passengers would have taken enough time to delay it significantly.

Food quality in trains and planes, I have had bad experiences about it. Okay, trains certainly outdo the planes, even if you travel by a Rajdhani or a Shatabdi Express. I make it a point to ignore pantry-car or railway station food except in emergency situations. In flights, it is still manageable. Your options – it depends much on the carrier and the duration of your flight.

The Rajdhani Express journey on that day only reaffirmed my aversion to the food served in the Indian trains.

Go for it only when you are not left with any other option (including fasting on that overnight journey)!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –