Just like every Adarsh baalak and baalika, who are the pride of their parents and the society, this coach of the Indian Railways is the shining example of everything Indian Railways should be.
The C3 coach on the Panchavati Express, an express train running between Mumbai and Manmad in Nashik district, is aptly called so, as it is maintained by its passengers. It celebrated its 10th anniversary trip on Wednesday with 90 passengers.
It is a First Class chair car that accommodates 70 passengers normally and has a number of distinctions that make it stand out from all other coaches that the Indian Railways runs.
The passengers actively maintain the coach themselves. While the Railways staff cleans the coach regularly, the passengers ensure that there is no garbage in the coach.
Bipin Gandhi, a regular traveller on the route told The Hindu,
If required we ourselves clean the coach with a broom and also do dusting. Our passengers don’t even throw a chocolate wrapper in the coach and now it’s their habit that they keep things clean around themselves everywhere.
Passengers also make sure to switch off lights during the day, when they are not needed to save energy. Pest control is done regularly. The coach has a well-equipped first aid box, a diary with names and details of its regular passengers, who get free services assisting them not just with buying their monthly season tickets but also with accident insurance cover.
Mr. Gandhi came up with the concept as the president of Rail Parishad, an NGO. Mr. Gandhi told the Hindu that it took some time to get the Railways to subscribe to his idea of a coach where the passengers were directly involved in the upkeep, before it was sanctioned in 2007.
The Railways authorities use to laugh at me but now I feel blessed that I have achieved my goal. There was a need of awareness among the passengers and I thought, why not start with one coach?
It has a set of rules that even the season-ticket-holders travelling in it have to follow. There are definite timings for reading and meditation, a ban on the use of cellular phones for part of the journey, and a ban on alcohol, tobacco and card-playing.
Model coach. Indian Railways, are you listening?