Indian Railways has delivered public transportation for 177 memorable years, from steam trains to ultra-rapid express. The network is the fourth-largest railway system globally, with 7,325 stations throughout the nation’s four corners. To give the “Divyangjans” comfortable and unimpeded conveyance across the railway network, the Ministry of Railways initiated the “Sugamya Bharti Abhiyan” (Accessible India Campaign) in 2015.
Aged travelers and others with special needs face hurdles getting on and off trains, particularly when traveling long miles. These traveler issues have urged the railway administration to give the following services to guarantee that older people can travel without problem.
Battery-Powered Vehicles and Wheelchairs
Wheelchair services are available for seniors and Divyangjans to use for free transportation to and from the trains. Over 5,400 railway stations have about 7,000 wheelchairs available to help the less fortunate travel. For a small fee, distinct carriers and helpers can be pre-arranged or hired to help special people while traveling. Under the ‘Yatri Mitra Sewa’ program, travelers can also book wheelchair porter facilities free of cost through NGOs, charity trusts, and PSUs.
There are wheelchair-accessible ramps at over 2,586 stations to ease usual travel. Battery Operated Vehicles (BOVs) can be used by Divyangjans and senior persons at main stations for free or a fee as part of the Railways’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Especially for those with incapacities, customized buses, frequently called SLRD buses, with wheelchair-friendly larger entryway doors and broader aisles are offered.
In-Train and Platform Amenities
Approximately all mail and express trains comprise SLRD coaches, four berths, customized toilets, two lower berths for travelers with disabilities, and two higher sleepers for helpers. When presented with adequate documentation verifying their age and the compulsory certificates, train ticket examiners (TTEs) may assign any available lower berths to elderly and disabled travelers. Indian travelers can also easily check the status of their booking through the PNR Status. By entering this ten-digit number, they can get information on the status of their reserved ticket.
As of August 2022, 981 elevators are used throughout 400 stations, and more than 1,090 escalators are used at 339 stations, with 25,000 individuals utilizing them daily. Furthermore, 3,897 stations comprise fresh water or toilets for travelers with disabilities, and over 1,465 stations have non-slip tracks joining parking lots to the station.
Route and Booking
A 50–75% discount on ticket fare is offered to individuals with bodily disabilities, mental disorders, and eye, listening, or speaking issues. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, all tickets for women aged 58 and older were reduced by 50%, while all tickets for men aged 60 and older were reduced by 40%. After the COVID-19 epidemic, certain controls have been inhibited and are waiting to be re-established. Several PRS centers give specialized stands to deal with reservations made by aged and disabled individuals. Moreover, 1,474 stations have big symbols with Braille Navigation Maps to inform and assist travelers who cannot see regarding the various services offered.