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A dedicated drive leads to an envious track record

MADURAI JAN.7. Be it cleanliness front or passenger comfort, the Madurai railway station has emerged a model.

As many as 20 important railway stations across the country, including the Vijayawada Junction in the South Central Railway, have taken the amenities provided at the junction here as the benchmark, thanks to untiring efforts of Madurai Division employees who have set a record in bagging cash awards from visiting dignitaries in recent months.

It took almost a year for the frontline staff to achieve high standards of cleanliness, passenger amenities and grievance-redressal mechanism by closely coordinating with other department staff.

With praises pouring in from the travelling public, elected representatives and foreigners, reflected in various websites, teams from different zones visited Madurai recently and took note of the work methodology. A hi-power committee of the South Western Railway, which inspected the safety parameters in the division last month, was impressed by the maintenance of the railway station and appreciated the officials concerned. The passenger satisfaction index, compiled through a regular feedback exercise, soared to 82 in a 100-point scale in December. "We concentrated on institutionalising this trend to make it a culture. The focus was more on a customer-friendly behaviour coupled with exemplary standards of service and sanitation," says the Divisional Railway Manager, Ashok Kumar Jain.

When the entire southern districts were reeling under acute drought conditions last year, almost all major railway stations in the division sustained copious water supply. A special team was formed to continuously monitor the quality of food provided on trains and at stations. The commercial staff and railway protection force personnel launched an intensive drive to curb the menace of touts and travel agents. "The frontline staff are now proactive to cater to the needs of passengers," he says, adding that Rameswaram, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin will also be developed as model stations.

Some of the features at the air-conditioned passenger information centre include spot-your-train facility, touch-screen reservation enquiry and coach position indicators. Rs.2 crores was spent during the last two years on beautification projects, which included granite flooring, state-of-the-art facilities at the passenger waiting halls, Gandhi Corner (a memorial commemorating the Mahatma's historic visit to Madurai), Food Plaza and lush green lawns on either end of the main platform.

Apart from being a 100 per cent handicapped-friendly, with special reservation counter and toilets for the physically challenged, the station also provides special care to senior citizens and women passengers.

When it comes to handling emergency cases, the trained personnel at the lobby have saved the lives of many passengers by providing timely medical intervention on and off trains. "We enforced discipline and rationalised the working pattern which paved the way for achieving these standards," the Station Manager, K. Velumani, says.

In the year of passenger satisfaction, the Madurai railway station, which has bagged the efficiency shield for best maintenance in the Southern Railway for five consecutive years, has ushered in a new work culture.

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