One brief journey turns eye-opener

One brief journey turns eye-opener

One brief journey turns eye-opener

The train will come at platform number one or two,” a porter tells me at New Delhi railway station. It’s the Ring Rail train that runs roughly parallel to Delhi’s Ring Road. I buy a ticket for Rs 12.

 A crowded electric multiple unit train stops at platform number one, where hundreds of passengers board and get off it within 10 minutes. After sounding a siren, the train sets off.

Most travellers are officer-goers and vendors. There are beggars asking for alms, people selling nuts, and destitute kids singing before passengers who are busy chatting, laughing and enjoying the moment. After two minutes, the train reaches Shivaji Bridge station, where many get down. There are many waiting at the platform as well.

The next stops are Tilak Bridge, Pragati Maidan, Sewa Nagar and Nizamuddin. It takes just 15 minutes to reach Nizamuddin from New Delhi railway station – unthinkable on any other mode of transport.

The crowd in the train is mostly from the lower and middle income groups. From students to working people, they are all regular travellers. They say it can become the best mode of commuting if railway authorities increase the frequency of trains on the Ring Rail network.

Some even say they will stop taking the Metro if the government brings this local train service at par with the one in Mumbai, providing a train every half hour.

Encroachments along the track

Lines of trees running parallel to the track pass by. Here and there the local train runs under elevated Metro tracks and flyovers. The train stops at Lodi Colony, and then Sarojini Nagar in a matter of a few minutes. Between Safdarjung and Chanakyapuri, there are tracks running on the remnants of the Aravali Hills.

But as the train crosses Chanakyapuri towards the next stations — Sardar Patel and Brar Square — the excitement of travelling on the Ring Rail fades.

Now, there is encroachment all around. People live in small clusters of makeshift houses beside the tracks. Even some platforms are encroached upon. As the train moves towards Naraina Vihar, Kirti Nagar, Patel Nagar and Shakurbasti, only the track is visible since the land around is encroached upon. People have built tenements on the platforms.

Kids and vagabonds roam around the tracks. A few hurl stones at passing trains. After Shakurbasti, the train stops at Dayabasti, Kishanganj, Sadar Bazar and again at New Delhi railway station. In Naraina Vihar, Sardar Patel and Brar Square stations, there is no facility to even buy tickets.

Railway land adding up to 1,96,517 sqm has been encroached upon around the tracks of the Ring Rail. No authority seems to have taken responsibility of clearing it up.
While thousands of crores of rupees are being spent on other modes of public transport to accommodate the increasing number of commuters, perhaps one of the best and fastest facilities, the Ring Rail service, is being ignored.

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