Passenger Amenities on Indian Railways

1.    Introduction

Indian Railways are one of the biggest transporters of passenger traffic in the world. Indian Railways run nearly 7500 passenger trains daily carrying on an average 12 million passengers per day.

With the quickening pace of modernization, the Railway traveller today expects much more from the system than he did in the past in the form of amenities. The provision of passenger amenities is, therefore, one of the important objectives of the Indian Railways both as a business ethic and a social obligation. The Indian Railways have issued a Citizens’ Charter on Passenger services in which, it has been pledged to ensure adequate passenger amenities in trains and at Railway stations. One of the thrust area in the VIII Plan was to provide basic passenger amenities at all stations on a priority basis.

Consequent to the recommendations of the Standing Committee of Parliament on Railways, the whole gamut of passenger amenities at stations was reviewed and Railway Board decided (May 1995):

  1. to provide/ augment the existing facilities in a planned manner, by drawing up a Perspective Plan for the provision of passenger amenities and,

  2. to classify all stations into 5 categories (categories A, B, C, D and E) depending upon their importance and volume of traffic handled at each station.

The following were declared as Minimum Facilities (which were hitherto called the Basic Amenities) and were to be provided immediately.

Regular/ Flag Station

Halt Station

  1. Waiting Hall. 

  2. Seating arrangements. 

  3. Drinking water. 

  4. Booking office. 

  5. A rail level platform. 

  6. Suitable arrangement for lighting. 

  7. Latrines. 

  8. Shady trees.

  1. Booking-cum-waiting shed.

  2. A rail level platform.

  3. Lighting arrangements where trains stop at night.

  4. Shady trees.

Additional infrastructural facilities were to be provided based on the category of the station.

All the Zonal Railways were asked to initiate immediate action to formulate the perspective plans and to ensure that action plans so formulated were amalgamated into one general action plan and inter se priorities for different works assigned.

Based on the suggestions and views of the Railways, following modifications were issued in September 1999 by the Board to the instructions issued in 1995:

  1. The amenities were classified as ‘Minimum Essential Amenities’, ‘Recommended amenities’ and ‘Desirable amenities’ (Annexure II).

  2. Stations were categorised in 6 categories (categories A, B, C, D, E and F) depending upon the earnings. The yard sticks/ extent to which the amenities were to be provided was linked to the category of station.

  3. The categorisation was to be reviewed every five year. The next review is due in 2001, based on the earnings for the year 2000-2001.

The present categorisation of stations in numbers is category A - 160, category B - 199, category C - 398, category D - 272, category E - 5468 and category F - 1594.

(Annexure III)

2.    Highlights

(Para 6)
(Para 7)
(Para 9)
(Para 10)

3.    Organisational set up

A separate Directorate functions in the Railway Board for monitoring passenger amenities provided and maintained by the Zonal Railways. The responsibility for monitoring of passenger amenities at the Zonal Headquarters rests with the Chief Commercial Manager (G) who is assisted by the Chief Engineer (P & D) and Deputy Chief Engineer (Planning). At the Divisional level, the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) holds the overall charge.

4.    Scope of review

The review attempts to examine (i) whether the passenger amenities provided by the Railways were in accordance with the norms prescribed by the Railway Board; and (ii) whether the facilities provided were maintained properly and actually utilised for the purpose. The review covers a period of five years from 1996-97 to 2000-2001.

5.    Sample Size

At the macro level a general review of the passenger amenities available on stations was carried out. In addition the test-check as follows was carried out:

(a)    Maintenance of Passenger Amenities

50 per cent of the Divisions on each Zonal Railway.

(b)    Halt Stations

Two Divisions on each Zonal Railway.

(c)    Model Stations

50 per cent of the model stations on each Zonal Railway as notified by the Railway Board on 4th June 1999.

6.    Budget and Expenditure

Funds are provided for Passenger Amenities Works under the Plan Head - 5300 in the budget allotment in Grant Number 16. The funds allotted for this important Plan Head formed a meagre part of the total allotment made under Grant Number 16 as shown below:


Budget Allotment under Grant No.16

Budget Allotment under Plan Head - 5300


Shortfall in utilisation of amount

Percentage (Col.3 to Col.2)








(Rs. in crore)






(-) 32.04






(+) 9.34






(-) 9.54






(-) 14.76






(-) 52.96






(-) 99.96


As may be observed from above, out of the total budget allotment of Rs.49125.50 crore under Grant No.16 during the review period, the share of Passenger Amenities Works was 1.25 per cent (i.e. Rs.618.35 crore) only. Even this allotment could not be fully utilised by the Railways as they could expend only Rs.518.39 crore which was 16.16 per cent short of the allotment. The phenomenon of not utilising the budget allotment was seen in all the years of the review except in the year 1997-98. Non-utilisation of amounts showed an increasing trend - from Rs.9.54 crore in 1998-99 to Rs.52.96 crore in 2000-2001.

Out of the amount of Rs.99.96 crore not utilised on Indian Railways, sizeable amount - Rs.83.97 crore (84 per cent) was not utilised by five Railways (Western - Rs.22.53 crore, Central - Rs.21.93 crore, Northern - Rs.19.26 crore, South Eastern - Rs.11.94 crore and Eastern - Rs.8.31 crore).

(Annexure IV)

The Ministry of Railways had intimated (July 1995) the Standing Committee on Railways (SCR) (1995-96) that there had been no surrender of funds since 1993-94 as a result of monitoring the passenger amenity works at various levels. It was also assured that efforts would continue to ensure that funds are fully utilised. It is evident from above that no monitoring was being done to ensure that funds are utilised to the extent of budget allotment and to ensure that the assurances made to the SCR are complied with.

The reasons given by the concerned Zonal Railways for non-utilisation were as follows:

1. Slow progress of works (Central, Eastern, Northern, North Eastern, Northeast Frontier, Southern, South Central, South Eastern and Western Railways).

2. Anticipated liabilities not materialised (Central and South Central Railways).

3. Non/ less contractual payments (Northern, Northeast Frontier, South Central and South Eastern Railways).

4. Non-finalisation of plans and estimates (Central, Eastern, South Eastern and Western Railways).

5. Non-finalisation of tenders/contracts (Central and Northern Railways).

6. Non-finalisation of Arbitration Awards (Northern Railway).

7. Due to adoption of economy measures (North Eastern, South Eastern and Western Railways).

8. Non-availability of labour and material (Southern Railway).

7.    Provision of Minimum Essential Amenities

A commitment was made to the Estimates Committee that all deficiencies in respect of basic amenities, as per norms, would be eliminated by 1990-91. Accordingly, Railway Board advised (March 1990) all the Railways to draw up an Action Plan to identify these deficiencies and take necessary steps to eliminate them positively at all the stations by 1990-91 as already committed to the Estimates Committee. In June 1993, Railway Board reiterated instructions to the Railways that while planning various works, it should be ensured that the first priority is to eliminate the deficiencies in basic passenger amenities as existing on 1 April 1991. These works should be handled in such a manner so that all such deficiencies are eliminated latest by 31 March 1995.

Basic Amenities were declared as ‘Minimum Facilities’ in 1995 and as ‘Minimum Essential Amenities’ in 1999 and scales were prescribed for providing the same at different stations as per their classification.

Each Zonal Railway was required to carry out a survey of available amenities at stations in relation to those prescribed as per scale. From the results of the survey, a list of amenities to be provided was to be separately drawn up station-wise for each route. Based on these lists, Divisional Action Plans were to be formulated, and amalgamated into one General Action Plan assigning priorities for different works. All the ‘Minimum Essential Amenities’ were to be provided immediately at all stations.

It was noticed that all the nine Zonal Railways had identified the deficiencies in Minimum Essential Amenities as per scale prescribed to be provided at the appropriate class of stations except on Eastern Railway for three amenities (fans, timetable display and clock) and on South Central Railway in respect of 5 amenities (lighting, fans, timetable display, clock and platforms - high/ low/ rail level). However, no Divisional Action Plan/ General Action Plan was drawn for works to be undertaken for providing them. The only exceptions were two divisions (Kota and Ratlam) on Western Railway, where Divisional Action Plans were drawn up.

As regards deficiencies in respect of Recommended Amenities and Desirable Amenities on Indian Railways, only Eastern and two divisions on Western Railway (Kota and Ratlam) had identified the same. One more division (Rajkot) on Western Railway had identified the deficiencies only in Recommended Amenities.

A review of extent of amenities provided so far revealed that out of 9 Zonal Railways, on 8 Zonal Railways more than 30 per cent of stations are having deficiencies in the following ‘Minimum Essential Amenities’:

1. Booking Counter [Eastern (63.01 per cent), Northern (84.41 per cent), Southern (67.74 per cent), South Central (80.19 per cent), South Eastern (36.63 per cent) and Western (53.23 per cent) Railways].

2. Drinking water [Western Railway (43.84 per cent)].

3. Waiting Hall/ shed [Western Railway (34.01 per cent)].

4. Urinals [Central (30.86 per cent), Northern (65.02 per cent), Southern (78.20 per cent), South Central (70.11 per cent) and South Eastern (35.23 per cent) Railways].

5. Latrines [Southern Railway (67.74 per cent)].

6. Platform Shelters/ Shady trees [Northeast Frontier (58.26 per cent) and Western (42.24 per cent) Railways].

7. Seating arrangements [Northern (30.12 per cent) and Southern (41.85 per cent) Railways].

8. Fans [Southern Railway (75.62 per cent)].

It was noticed that Southern Railway was having more than 30 per cent of stations deficient in 5 Minimum Essential Amenities (Booking Counter, Urinals, Latrines, Seating Arrangements and Fans), followed by Western in 4 Minimum Essential Amenities (Booking Counter, Drinking Water, Waiting Hall/ Shed and Platform Shelters/ Shady Trees) and Northern Railway in 3 Minimum Essential Amenities (Booking Counter, Urinals and Seating Arrangements).

Drinking water being a basic necessity, deficiency in providing for the same should deserve special and immediate attention of the Railways. It was, however, noticed that percentage of deficient stations in the provision of drinking water in eight Zonal Railways ranged between 14.20 (Central) and 43.84 (Western).

(Annexure V)

Thus, even after a decade, Railways have not been able to fulfill the commitment made to the Estimates Committee to eliminate deficiencies in basic amenities by 1990-91, leading to the Standing Committee on Railways (SCR), 2001 expressing serious concern in its 7th Report over the non-availability of even basic amenities at stations as well as in the trains. Even drinking water was not available at a number of stations. Therefore, the Committee recommended that passenger amenities must form the most important issue in the Railway.

8.    Maintenance of Passenger Amenities at stations

It is important to maintain the amenities provided at all the stations in good working order at all times. Maintenance staff should carry out repairs needed to bring back the amenity to functional order, immediately after receipt of information from the Station Master/Station Superintendent. Hygiene and cleanliness should be an important activity for day to day monitoring. The Railways should provide adequate imprest with station masters of stations where Railways maintenance staff was not headquartered, to enable them organise expeditious repairs to small items of passenger amenities such as handpump/ taps, water trolly, clock, light/fans, urinal/latrine and furniture at the stations.

A review of the Inspection Reports of Railway Officers on their inspection of stations in respect of 32 divisions test checked on 9 Zonal Railways during the period 1996-97 to 2000-01 revealed that the maintenance of the passenger amenities are not being effectively carried out. In respect of the following facilities/amenities, there were 7639 adverse comments in the inspection reports test checked during the period of review:

1.    Drinking water facility (1520).

2.    Cleanliness (2446).

3.    Urinals (621).

4.    Toilets (1121).

5.    Retiring rooms (732).

6.    Booking counters (1199).

(Annexure VI)

9.    Retiring rooms

Retiring Room is one of the Desirable Amenities to be provided in stations of category A, B and D. The provision of retiring rooms at stations should be made only where a minimum of 40 per cent occupation was expected vide Railway Board letter dated 21 June 1968. The Estimates Committee in their 10th Report (1977-78) 6th Lok Sabha on Passenger Amenities recommended to ensure the utilisation of the retiring rooms to the maximum extent possible since at several stations, the average occupancy ratio of retiring room was lower than 40 per cent.

As on 31 December 2000 there were 491 stations where retiring rooms were provided. The number of units available for occupation during the years 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 were 3238, 3297, 3307 and 3322 respectively. On 9 Zonal Railways, the percentage of number of units that had occupancy of less than 40 per cent ranged between 13.97 per cent - Northern Railway (1999) and 65.20 per cent - Northeast Frontier Railway (1999) during the period 1st January 1997 to 31st December 2000. On 2 Railways (North Eastern and Northeast Frontier) more than 50 per cent of number of units had occupancy of less than 40 per cent.

(Annexure VII)

Though only stations of category - A, B and D should be provided with retiring rooms, 79 stations not belonging to these categories were provided with retiring rooms as on 31 December 2000 on different Zonal Railways.

(Annexure VIII)

10.    Catering

Catering facilities are essentially public amenity service. Passengers need a well managed catering system for supply of tasty and wholesome food at reasonable prices.

Indian Railways provide catering services through refreshment rooms at stations and in nominated long and medium distance trains through pantry cars. These services are provided by the Railway departmental catering units and units operated by contractors. The SCR (1995-96) had noted that there was sufficient scope for improvement in catering services provided to passengers.

As on 1 April 2000 the number of departmental catering units on Indian Railways was 160 and those operated by contractors was 1111.

(Annexure IX)

For judging the performance/ services provided by these catering units, complaints received on catering services were taken as a parameter. It was noticed that total number of complaints received on catering services was 4629 during the review period. An analysis of these complaints revealed that the complaints against the departmental catering units were more than the complaints against the contractor operated units as shown in the following table:

Sl. No.


Number of complaints received against


Catering Units

Contractor Operated
Catering Units






























It would also be observed from the above table that there was no perceptible decrease in the number of complaints received during the review period. Only on Northern Railway, the number of complaints received showed a decreasing trend - against 250 complaints received (both departmental and contractor-operated) in 1996-97, only 36 were received in 2000-2001. Zonal Railway-wise position revealed that out of 4,629 complaints received during the review period, the maximum number received was on Central - 1703, followed by Western - 1079, Northern - 673 and Southern - 556.

While the number of complaints against departmental catering units increased from 563 in 1996-97 to 709 in 2000-2001 i.e. an increase of 26 per cent, the number of complaints against contractor operated catering units decreased from 457 in 1996-97 to 273 in 2000-2001 i.e. a decrease of 40 per cent. On two Railways viz., South Eastern and Western, the trend was reverse i.e., complaints against the contractor-operated units were more than the complaints against the departmental units during the review period. On Western Railway, out of 1079 complaints received, while 397 (36.79 per cent) complaints were against the departmental units, the number of complaints received against contractor-operated units were 682 (63.21 per cent).

The complaints against departmental catering units had increased from 448 in 1999-2000 to 709 in 2000-2001 (increase of 58 per cent). It was also noticed that out of the total of 2667 complaints received against the departmental catering units during the review period, the maximum was on Central - 1028, followed by Northern - 561, Western - 397 and Southern - 303. Further, the number of complaints received against the departmental units showed an increasing trend on Central - from 161 in 1996-97 to 408 in 2000-2001 and Western - from 67 in 1996-97 to 135 in 2000-2001.

(Annexure X)

A test check of the complaints received during the month of October and December 2000 revealed that adverse remarks pertained to:

1.    70 cases of poor quality/ poor quantity of food (Central -.26, Eastern - 3, Northern - 5, North Eastern - 2, Southern - 16, South Central - 5 and Western - 13).

2.    7 cases of charging higher rates (Northern - 1, Southern - 1, South Central - 4 and South Eastern - 1).

3.    3 cases of non-supply of food (Northern - 2 and Southern - 1).

4.    1 case of non supply of water along with lunch/ dinner (South Central - 1).

5.    2 cases of impure water in pouches/ bottles (South Central - 2).

6.    4 cases of misbehavior (Northern - 2 and Southern - 2).

7.    4 cases of poor cleanliness (Southern - 2 and South Eastern - 2).

8.    40 cases of miscellaneous nature (Central - 32, Southern - 3 and Western - 5).

Even after a comment made by SCR (1995-96) for improvement in catering services provided to passengers, Railways do not seem to have made much headway in this regard. Non- improvement in catering services has again led the SCR (2001) to express their anguish and dis-satisfaction in its 7th report over the catering services in the trains as well as on the stations. The committee commented that these services were far from the expectations of the passengers and rail users. There was hardly any attention paid to the quality of food supplied and to the aspect of cleanliness. The committee desired that there was an urgent need to strengthen and professionalise these services.

11.    Halt stations

In terms of Railway Board’s instructions of May 1999, a halt station can be opened by the General Manager of Zonal Railways when:

  1. there is a financial justification;

  2. non-suburban areas where the site of the proposed halt is at least 5 kms. from the stations/ halts on either side;

  3. it is feasible both from Operating and Engineering points and,

  4. a halt is justified on Amenity grounds, provided the estimated loss is not more than Rs.10,000 per annum.

When the conditions as stipulated above are not fulfilled, halt may be opened as a passenger amenity, if there is justification for opening the halt on grounds of volume of passenger traffic. Such halts can be opened by the Railway Board on the recommendation of the Zonal Railway.

If a halt station is found un-remunerative and also not justified on passenger amenity grounds, it could be closed by the Railway Administration. Zonal Railways should consider closure of the halt stations having sale of tickets less than Rs.20 per day. Zonal Railways are required to make a six monthly review of the working of halt stations for the timely closure of the halt stations which continue to incur losses.

On Indian Railways, there were 1708 halt stations as on 31 March 2001.

(Annexure XI)

A test check of halt stations of two divisions on each of the nine Zonal Railways during the review period revealed that these halt stations suffered a loss of Rs.203.64 crore. Out of this, Northern Railway accounted for Rs.74.42 crore, followed by South Central Railway - Rs.40.25 crore, North Eastern Railway - 36.14 crore and Eastern Railway - Rs.21.79 crore. It was noticed that as on 31 March 2001, out of 543 halt stations test checked, 526 halt stations (Central - 7, Eastern - 77, Northern - 119, North Eastern - 63, Northeast Frontier - 31, Southern - 49, South Central - 73, South Eastern - 45 and Western - 62) suffered annual loss of more than Rs.10,000.

(Annexure XII)

This indicates that Zonal Railways are not conducting the six monthly review of the working of halt stations effectively. There is an urgent need to review the position in this regard by the Railways to avoid recurring losses in the operation of un-remunerative halt stations.

12.    Public complaints

During the period 1996-97 to 2000-2001, the number of complaints received annually on 9 Zonal Railways ranged between 17717 (2000-2001) and 19731 (1996-97).

An analysis of complaints received during 2000-2001 revealed that percentage of complaints regarding facilities at stations to the total number of complaints ranged between 30.35 - Western Railway and 67.82 - North Eastern Railway while percentage of complaints regarding travelling facilities during journey ranged between 13.92 (North Eastern Railway) and 46.54 (Northeast Frontier Railway).

On Western Railway, the number of complaints received increased from 2591 in 1996-97 to 2860 in 2000-2001 i.e., an increase of 10.38 per cent. The number of complaints registered an increasing trend on Northeast Frontier Railway from the year 1997-98 (282) to (449) in 2000-2001. This indicates that there was no improvement in the services rendered. These statistics may not necessarily depict the true picture and the ground realities in fact could be more serious, since most of the passengers do not generally lodge written complaints. The Railways have to be sensitive to the grievances of the public and must apply all corrective measures on a continuous basis.

(Annexure XIII)

13.    Model stations

The year 1999-2000 was declared as “Passenger Year” by the Railway Minister. The Minister further declared that all efforts would be made to make at least one station of each Division as model station, where higher level of passenger facilities would be provided. Consequent upon this, Railway Board circulated on 4 June 1999 to the Zonal Railways a list of 61 selected stations where the higher level of passenger facilities were to be provided alongwith the area of upgradation and also implementation plan for these stations. The Railway Board had desired that all the works on model stations be completed by 1999-2000.

A check of the provision of the higher level of passenger facilities to be provided by 1999-2000 at model stations revealed that out of 30 stations test-checked on eight Zonal Railways (except North Eastern Railway), facilities such as Signages at 8 stations, National Train Enquiry System at 14 stations and Modular Stalls at 12 stations were not provided by 1999-2000. Provision of segregation of traffic flows and segregation of parking for various types of vehicles and development of Green patches in Circulating Areas was also not done by 1999-2000 at 5, 3 and 10 stations respectively out of the 30 stations test-checked.

(Annexure XIV)

On Central Railway, the selection of stations for development of model stations does not appear to be proper since almost all the upgraded facilities were already provided even before they were selected as model stations.

14.    Consultative Committees

Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee (ZRUCC) and Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee (DRUCC) have been constituted to foster a closer relationship with rail users and elicit their suggestions. ZRUCC may meet as often as necessary but not less than twice a year and DRUCC once a quarter but not less than 3 times a year. However, it was observed that during the period of review, 36 meetings of ZRUCC were held forming 40 per cent of the 90 minimum meetings and 392 meetings of DRUCC were held forming 33.79 per cent of 1160 minimum required number of meetings on Indian Railways. On Zonal Railways, the meetings held by ZRUCC ranged between 30 per cent (Northeast Frontier, South Central and Western Railways) and 60 per cent (Northern Railway) against the required number of meetings. The percentage of meetings held in respect of DRUCC was even lower which ranged between 23.57 per cent (Eastern Railway) and 44.38 per cent (Northern Railway) of the required number of meetings.

(Annexure XV)

This is indicative of the fact that the Railway Administrations are not giving due importance to the purpose for which the Consultative Committees were formulated. The SCR (2001) in its 9th report has directed Ministry of Railways to take urgent action to ensure that these meetings are held regularly.

15.    Other points of interest

15.1    Provision of Escalators

Once the Minimum Essential Amenities as prescribed are available at a station, further augmentation of these amenities as per norms is required to be taken up as 'Recommended Amenities'. Desirable Amenities should thereafter be provided based on their need, customer satisfaction and relative importance of the stations. However, instances as described below have been noticed by Audit wherein an amenity not prescribed was taken up at considerable expense at certain stations.

(i)    Under Metropolitan Transport Project (MTP), Chennai at five stations situated at an elevated level between Madras Beach and Thirumaiyilai, escalators (three at each stations) were installed (March 1998 - August 1999) at a cost of Rs.8.98 crore in addition to the existing lifts at these stations. The original project report (1991) had provided only for lifts. However, sanction of Railway Board was obtained in December 1995 to install elevators in addition to the existing lifts at these stations. Installation of elevators at such exorbitant cost lacked justification especially in view of the fact that the number of commuters using MTP services was far below the projections made in the project report. (Average of 5,717 commuters per day as against 6,03,000 projected).

(ii)    The Central Railway Administration provided in March 1997 an escalator at Pune Railway station at a cost of Rs.0.60 crore just outside platform No.1 to reach the Foot Over Bridge to get to platforms No.2 to 6. It was found that:

It would be observed from the above that assigning priority for installation of escalators at exorbitant costs at these stations lacked justification, especially when a large number of stations are yet to be provided with the Minimum Essential Amenities.

15.2    Provision of Public Address (PA) System in suburban trains in Mumbai Central Railway

The work of providing the communication equipment in 100 rakes (estimated to cost 0.99 crore) was carried out by awarding contracts to M/s. Marvel Electrical Equipments Private Limited and M/s. Byte Communications, Mumbai. The equipment fitted in the rakes did not function efficiently from the date of its commissioning. The amplifiers and microphones were also stolen in many cases. The systems provided by these two contractors were not compatible with each other. Therefore, when the coaches were marshalled and rakes containing coaches with both systems were combined, the system failed to function. A number of public complaints were received about non-functioning of PA system. The exact expenditure incurred in the provision of the system as well as current position of the working of the system could not be ascertained as the concerned files were not made available to Audit as the same were stated to be with Vigilance branch of Railway Board.

It is, however, apparent that the system provided as a public utility did not achieve the desired results.

15.3    Waiting Hall/ Room

Two waiting halls (one each at Rai Bareilly and Unchahar) and one waiting room at Faizabad on Lucknow Division of Northern Railway had been under occupation by Government Railway Police (GRP) since 1986, 1989 and 1990 respectively. The Railway Administration failed to get these premises vacated from the occupation of GRP as on 30 June 2001, leading to depriving the public of this facility.