Last week, the Indian Railways announced a service that is bound to have caught the attention of many airline top honchos. The 'Bags on Wheels' service, which will be initially rolled out for passengers boarding from New Delhi, Delhi Junction, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Delhi Cantonment, Delhi Sarai Rohilla, Ghaziabad and Gurgaon railway stations is aimed at providing a hassle-free travel experience.
Through the app-based service, luggage will be transported to their homes from the railway station and vice-versa.
On October 29, the national transporter launched the ‘Meri Saheli’ initiative, aimed at beefing up security of women passengers travelling by train from the source station to the destination station.
Experts feel these initiatives are a step in the right direction and imperative for railways to regain the trust of passengers.
"Indian Railways has been a trusted and time-tested model. Generations of Indians remember it with a great degree of fondness. It has therefore to resurrect this fond imagery for contemporary times. What it needs is a good set of consumer insights to make it chug back into the hearts of Indians," said Harish Bijoor, brand guru and founder, Harish Bijoor Consults.
Nishant Pitti, Chief Executive and co-founder EaseMyTrip, said the recent efforts of the railways indicates it is trying to shed its primitive approach towards consumer satisfaction.
"Railways has to take measures to ensure they don't lose more passengers to airlines. But they need to do more about safety measures like keeping a check on queues at railway stations and ticket counters. Travel is expected to pick up in a big way once the vaccine is available for the public and railways too wil benefit from it as people would want to travel," he told Moneycontrol.
Passengers, he added, won't mind spending an additional amount considering the times we live in. "With airlines now providing connectivity to smaller cities under the UDAN scheme, the railways has its task cut out."
The passenger segment of the railways has suffered due to restrictions placed to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Although it has started adding trains to cater to the rush of passengers during the festive season, the general advisory from them has been that unnecessary travel should be avoided.
When it comes to competing with airlines for passenger share, the railways does lose out on the hygiene count, but it is trying to reinvigorate passenger sentiments through these new measures, according to Lloyd Mathias, business strategist and angel investor.
"Any move that makes the whole journey process is positive. The Bags on Wheels service by railways is a very progressive and positive move. The railways has recognised that it needs to be in tune with the new-age traveller. The larger concern remains about the safety and cleanliness of bogeys, but I am sure they will look into those aspects. The biggest advantage for railways is that stations are located in the middle of the cities and towns while airports are located on the outskirts. I am glad that they are focusing on convenience of passengers," he told Moneycontrol.