India being a developing country, railways have always played a crucial role in shaping Indian economy. While Indian Railways is the fourth-largest network in the world, many trains operated by them are unique in nature. Not only do they provide connectivity throughout the country, they even educate people about the rich Indian past, carry out health services and also play a major role in Indian tourism.
Let us closely observe some of the trains that deserve a pat! –
- Mysuru – Varanasi Express (Country’s 1st blind-friendly train) – Mysuru railway station which recently had the distinction of becoming the first visually-challenged friendly railway station in India has now added another feather to its cap. Becoming country’s maiden Braille-embedded train it will be lending a helping hand to the visually – impaired. Mysuru – Varanasi Express, which leaves Mysuru for Varanasi on Tuesdays and Thursdays, have been provided with metallic Braille signages inside the coaches. These indicate the location of alarm pull chains, toilets, emergency windows, and berth numbers, for the convenience of the visually challenged.To note, while the Puri-Delhi Purushottam Express was the first train to have a Braille-embedded coach, the Mysuru-Varanasi Express is the first train in the country in which all coaches are Braille-embedded.
- Lifeline Express (A mobile hospital train) – With a dream of a healthy India, with a dream that people should not through neglect or ignorance, become disabled or crippled, Jeevan Rekha Express was started. This mobile hospital train is an initiative of Indian Railways and Health Ministry, with a view to providing health services to the Indians in the remotest parts of the country. If disabled persons cannot reach a hospital, then the hospital should reach them. With this seed of an idea, it has taken shape as the World’s first Hospital-On-Rails. The organization which coordinates this effort, virtually the nerve centre of the entire operation, is IMPACT, an International Initiative against Avoidable Disablement, promoted by the UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, in association with the Government of each participating country.
Since its launch in 1991, it has provided free medical help to over 9 lac disabled poor which only have been possible with the donated services and volunteers. And not only medical help, this train also serves as a classroom to local village doctors through medical microscopy and broadcast. Manned by the best doctors and surgeons from around the world and robbed with health, productivity and joy, this train is nothing short than a national asset!
- Red Ribbon Express (Awareness on rails) – Decked with the yellow, red and green facade of the train, it took the onus for spreading awareness of HIV and AIDS. Launched by the ministries of Health and Railways on World’s AIDS Day in 2007, it was started off on a mission to throw light on the causes and treatment of HIV and AIDS. An entire fitted out the train of about 7 carriages, it travelled around India with pre-determined station stops, where people could onboard the train and have an interactive awareness about the disease. The huge youth network associated had hundreds of volunteers fanning out at every station. Using bicycles, they zipped across to a cluster of villages and created a buzz about the arrival of the train, informing the rural population about the RRE and explaining to them the purpose of the train’s visit and thus making it one of those successful awareness campaigns.
- Mahamana Express (1st Model Train of India) – The word ‘swanky’ will not do enough! Touted as the first major upgrade in design and facilities in a passenger train in India, Mahamana Express now records its name in history. Under “Make in India” project, this train that plies between New Delhi and Varanasi has been blessed with all newly refurbished coaches and ultra-modern amenities such as controlled discharged water tap, new toilet modules, exhaust fans, LED lights and use of fire retardation materials, that gives nothing less than a standardized feel to the train commuters. A plush makeover of this train with features of international standards will be giving a decent competition to the foreign trains. An initiative of 1st model train of its kind assures us that railway and associated travelling standards are soaring high.
- Science Express (Exhibition on wheels) – Underscoring the need to sustain India’s bio-diversity, this exhibition on wheels or the Science Express is not an ordinary train. Science Express which is the longest running, largest and most visited mobile science exhibition in India, it has created six Limca Book of Records in its journey so far. Since its inception in 2007, it has been running on various themes every year showcasing India’s natural riches and generating awareness about environmental problems.
When it comes to rail travel, the old adage – “The journey is as important as the destination”, rings true. And with such trains that run for a cause, indeed, the journeys become more about consciousness and understanding along with the joys of travelling!