AK Puthia, General Manager Northern Railways, who conducted an inspection of the Kalka-Shimla heritage track on Tuesday, in an interview tells Adil Akhzer that the railways is working to create more awareness among the public about the heritage railway track.
Please tell us about the World Heritage Fortnight that is being celebrated by the Indian Railways? What are you doing on the Kalka-Shimla railway line?
We are giving special attention to all the heritage sites. We are doing a special cleaning drive and scout guide are also being roped in. We are also taking help of the Media so that we can create more awareness about the kalka-Shimla railway line so that common people can take advantages of these services.
How difficult is it to maintain this section?
This section is more than 100- year-old. The UNESCO has listed this as a world heritage site and there are some specialties. Now, we don’t want to tamper with it. The main challenge is that whatever we do, we have to keep the heritage site in mind. We have to keep the heritage character intact…because it is in situated in hilly areas and tracks get affected during landslides. There are some houses nearby and sometimes they throw garbage on it and then the track gets dirty.
Any new facility added by the railways in this section?
We have made retiring room facilities at various stations on this track. Waiting rooms are being provided and stress is being given so that clean and hygienic food is served to the passengers.
Are you facing any issues in adding more coaches on this track?
No, there was a delay in the supply of the wheels of the coaches. The wheel supply company couldn’t make it according to the specification and it was rejected. Now, we have resolved it by making it manufactured in the our production unit.
Is there any shortage of coaches?
There is no shortage presently.
Any plans to run the trains during nights?
No, not immediately. Because it is run for the tourist and they prefer to see it during the day only and enjoy the scenery.
What is the status of starting semi high speed train services from Chandigarh to Delhi?
The railways have started the fast trains services from Delhi to Agra. Similar inputs are required for the other tracks as well as the fencing of the track is required. In future there are more sections where such trains would be introduced and Delhi- Chandigarh is one of the identified section…Indian railways is trying to increase more and more speed in the trains.
There are regular complaints that Government Railways Police don’t provide sufficient security arrangements at Chandigarh railway station. What do you have to say?
The Railways Police Force and GRP have to work together to provide sufficient security to the passengers. But security issues are not serious issues. By and large, security is okay and if there are some gaps on the GRP side then RPF personnel often manage.
Also, there are complaints about the poor quality of food served in Shatabdis?
We get complaints about it on occasional basis, but, not on regular basis. If we get any complaint, we approach the food provider. The expectation of the public is very high so it is very difficult to satisfy everyone.
Are you planning to add more coaches in Shatabdi?
Shatabdis already have maximum number of coaches and there is scope for only a couple of more coaches. Whenever the waiting list is large we attach those coaches.
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