Simply Bad Design — Indian Railways

I have been a big fan of Indian railways about how it manages to run so many trains connecting various places within India. I always see it as one of the important contributions of the colonial rule. A design that could still run more than a century. I was always amazed by the simplicity and functionality that the rail coaches provide.

When Lalu Prasad Yadav was the railway minister he tried to introduce an in-between berth in the sides. It was such a horrible mistake and fortunately it was taken back after some trial runs.

The recent changes made in AC compartments in Pandiyan Express seems like a bad design decision.

Plastic fixed snacks table and bottle holder below the table.

The snack table that is made out of plastic is fixed on one side. It used to be made with a sturdy wooden plank and nicely foldable steel support(Its still the case with sleeper compartments). I see two advantages in old design.

  1. When it is not needed it can be folded and kept aside so that it doesn’t disrupt the leg space. Maximum time it will be kept folded as we are not going to eat throughout the journey.
  2. It can be used as a stool to hold small kids. It was sturdy enough to hold their weight.

The bottle holder used to be a netted holder or a circular metal ring which can hold bottles of regular sizes. But that design had been replaced with these plastic bottle holders below the plastic table. I see few disadvantages in this new design.

  1. The holders can hold only plastic pet bottles (water , cool drinks etc) which indirectly encourages the use of plastic. Also it supports one size. So people with their own personal bottles with a different size cannot use this.
  2. All the bootle holders are kept in the same place. Say if I am assigned a middle berth, still then I have to climb down to pick up this bottle. Its not available at my disposal unlike the previous design.
  3. How on earth you will reach these bottle holders hidden behind these plastic tables? You can reach it only if you are a tiny kid or you have to sit down to reach these holders.
  4. Assuming that every one is going to use plastic pet bottles how is that one passenger going to differentiate his bottle from others as most of them buy rail neer.

A fancy plastic tray doesn’t necessarily qualify to be a good design just because its aesthetically appealing.As a designer, I request you to improve the experience of the passenger or at least don’t make it worse.