11 June : Reflecting her resolve to improve passenger services, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee hinted at revamping the Tatkal scheme, making the enquiry system more user friendly and providing basic amenities in small and medium class stations.
She also said the railways will do away with the side middle berth, introduced in 2008, in passenger coaches as it had been causing a lot of inconvenience to passengers.Banerjee told reporters at New Delhi on Thursday that grievances regarding the Tatkal scheme being unfriendly would be looked into.
She expressed her anguish over the quality of food served in trains like Rajdhani express and passengers not being served food beyond a period if the train is running late.She disagreed with a suggestion that prices of food served in trains be increased to improve quality saying, "let the food quality improve first at the present rate".
When pointed out that passengers forfeit the entire fare in the event of the wait-listed ticket not being confirmed under the Tatkal quota, Banerjee said she would look into this aspect.Regarding complaints about ‘139’ enquiry number and suggestions for making it a toll-free number, she asked her officials to look into the matter.
Banerjee parried questions relating to the upcoming railway budget."Railway should have a long term and short term policy," she said.She also supported Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) in new infrastructural projects, saying "it is welcome."Banerjee agreed that advent of big multinationals have made the food items dearer at stations.
She said that passenger amenities in small stations were not given proper attention during the last five years.