Indian Railways and Toilets…Did you Know?

Talk of a second class toilet on any Indian train usually evokes faces of utter disgust or a sling of the choicest abuses on how the Government/railways has failed in providing sanitized rest rooms for the traveling masses. I haven’t had to care much as a matured internal digestion cum egestion system ensures that I usually don’t feel the urge to use one. After reaching the destination, however, it is usually a mad and frustrated dash to my dwelling place.

Anyway, one should consider himself lucky to be born in an era where not just 1 but 2 toilets are provided in each coach, irrespective of class. Did you know that in the first 55 years of the Indian Railway’s operations, there was no toilet provision in the lower classes!!

It is, they say, a result of the following letter, that the railways decided to be more humane and include toilets in all classes of coaches for trains running more than 50 miles.

“I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much
swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the
nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running
with ‘lotah’ in one hand and ‘dhoti’ in the next when I am fall over and
expose all my shocking to man and female women on plateform. I am got leaved
at Ahmedpur station.
This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait
train five minutes for him. I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine
on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to papers.”

The letter was written by a certain gentleman named Okhil Chandra Sen to the Sahibganj divisional railway
office in 1909 and is on display at the National Rail Museum in New Delhi.

The Locomotive drivers,however haven’t been so lucky and till today, don’t have toilets on board. I guess it’s the vast semi barren landscape that currently bears the burden of their discomfort.

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4 thoughts on “Indian Railways and Toilets…Did you Know?

  1. Chetan says:

    That’s interesting to learn Robin. The apathy of not keeping toilets or public utility clean by Indian railways is not attributed to only Railways lackluster attitude but also to citizens. Without citizen’s participation it’s impossible to keep things spic-n-span and functional. Unless people gear up for participating in nation’s responsibility, nation can not be maintained. Govt can do things once however it’s every citizen’s responsibility to maintain it or let alone the maintenance at least not to abuse it. Be it Metro rail, common rail or any public utility you will find the mess and necessary things missing be it lota, bulb, mirror or even fan..”kyonki rashtra ki sampati..apnee sampati hai”..

  2. robinjabraham says:

    Thats true and yet you wonder how something like the Delhi Metro has escaped this attitude. I guess it is also the responsibility of the government to reinforce to its citizens the need to keep and maintain Rashtra sampati. Of course Citizen participation is also required but maybe a little empowerment of the diligent ones would help

  3. Prerana says:

    Robin – I did read this excerpt at the Bangalore city Railyway station recently. It was framed on the restroom wall.
    It seemed funny then but looking back we know that Indian Railways has come a long way from it’s initial years.
    Hoping to see a lot more progress with Bharatiya rail and in general everything “Bharatiya”….

    • robinjabraham says:

      True… I hope so too and at least we’ve reached a stage where we can boast of a world class metro and are having pre feasibility studies on running the bullet trains. The Bharitya aspect ignites so many of us in the system that I am sure there would be a lot more progress

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