Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Travel Another India: Indian Railways for people with disabilities

Dear Colleagues,

Its very scary for a wheelchair users to travel in Indian Railways despite their tall claims of providing facilities for disabled passengers. The railways is not run professionally, its like a cake / prize which is shared by the political party supporting the Government- thanks to coalition politics.

Railways is too slow in taking any steps and reason given is that it is too huge an organisation. Their conduct shows that they have been least interested in filling up the employment seats reserved for the disabled under the garb that disabled are a threat to security and safety if employed on several posts (which they term as technical or safety posts though there is nothing technical about many of them) until the high court of Delhi ordered them to do so on a petition by AICB.

Currently there is only lip service. There are few officers who are sincere and serious but the overall attitude and systems do not look geared up to think about accessibility as a priority issue! They do things because courts are directing them to do and there is no pro activeness on the part of Railways which is a sad thing.
That they take this issue up on priority, they need to be pushed hard through all means.

Here are some experiences from our dear friend Ms. Shivani Gupta on her travel in Indian Railways. Its scary and indicates all is not well there for disabled people. The answer as the sector feels is not special coaches for disabled but mainstreaming of disability concerns in the mainstream coaches on the basis of universal design so that persons with disabilities could travel with families and not in to secluded "so called coaches for disabled".


It was going to be a train trip for me soon after a long time. I was traveling to Puttaparthi by Karnataka Express for darshan of Sri Satya Sai Baba along with my father who is a staunch devotee.  For a number of people train travels were something to look forward to and enjoyable. In fact they were enjoyable for me to till I became severely disabled having to use a wheelchair. Since I became disabled I tried to avoid train travels as much as possible but considering that it was the most affordable means of travel I was forced to use it on occasions.


My father made the bookings well in advance. The railways gave a considerably large concession on the ticket for the disabled traveler and one escort traveling with them making the travel very cheap. We had heard about a ‘Handicapped Coach’ that the railways had introduced in every train. But it was an unreserved coach so a disabled passenger could not reserve it and as a matter of safety and convenience a disabled person would rarely travels unreserved, therefore this coach was useless for us as it still remains to be for most disabled travelers  .........read more at.. Travel Another India: Indian Railways for people with disabilities


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