Passengers can soon tune in to popular FM radio stations while travelling on trains, with the Indian Railway firming up plans to roll out a Rail Radio service for onboard infotainment which would also come in handy in emergency situations and disasters.
The state-run public transporter plans to introduce the facility on about 1000 Mail and Express trains, including premier services.
Passengers will not only be treated to popular songs and music over the public adress (PA) system in coaches, but also be updated on train-related information on hourly basis. The system will be used to issue alerts in case of an emergency, according to the plan.
Besides jokes, astrology and other trivia, the history of Indian Railway and its major activities will also be part of the Rail Radio service.
"We are in the process of finalising arrangements with a few leading FM radio stations to provide entertainment as well as information to passengers onboard about 1000 Mail and Express trains including Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto," said a senior Railway Ministry official. \
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had in his 2016-17 budget speech proposed to invite FM radio stations for providing train-borne entertainment through public address systems on trains. Currently only Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains are equipped with PA system.
"Once Rail Radio service is operationalised, all these premier trains will be linked with the system," he said.
As per the plan, studios will be set up at Railway Board and all zonal headquarters to operationalise Rail Radio service.
Rail Radio service will be helpful during emergency situations like accidents or a natural calamity, the official said. "It will be easier to reach out to passengers during emergency through PA system from the headquarters," said the official, adding "there will be a slot for educating and creating awareness among passengers on disaster management."
With a view to enhancing passenger comfort, a move has been initiated by the Railways to introduce new amenities including ergonomic seating, improved asthetics, water level indicators and easily accessible dustbins in coaches.
The public sector giant also plans to make available the bilingual onboard magazine Rail Bandhu in all Mail and Express trains. Currently the magazine is available only in Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains. There is also a plan to publish Rail Bandhu in regional languages, the official said.