Filthy Indian Railways

by admin Dec 28, 2009 8 Comments

Filed under: Dharma

The filthy image of India is something we have yet to overcome, and nothing portrays filthiness like the Indian Railways. An Indian’s perception of what is clean is very different and that could be why things are not very clean here. Before my recent train trips, I was given high hopes by many that the trains I will be traveling on will be very clean. So, I was positive, but all that was shattered the instant I stepped on to an Indian train.

The horrible stench, the filthiness all around, the nasty toilets, and even mice and cockroaches running around. I even had to clean the toilet myself before my family and friends could use it. I was surprised that it was this bad, considering that the railways now contracts out most of the cleaning services. So, I decided to email some railway officials regarding lack of cleanliness and here is the email I sent to Mamata Banerjee, the Minister of Railways:

Dear Minister,

The cleanliness levels on Indian trains is so horrible and embarrassing, that I hope this email will lead to some positive action from your end to clean up the trains and stations all over India.

I was recently traveling by first class chair car to Delhi and the toilet was so nasty and filthy, that I had to clean it myself before I could use it (see attached images). Even though the railways has contracted out cleaning services, the cleanliness levels in the trains and stations have not improved. Someone needs to do something here to set proper standards for cleanliness. Take the new Domestic Terminal in Delhi for example. That’s the kind of cleanliness that’s required in trains and railway stations. With a little attention to detail, proper training and supervision, it can be done without having to rebuild everything.

The train I was on was really really bad, even had mice and cockroaches running around, and the stench was horrible. I had written to the railways Chairman, but no response from him/her. I hope you can take some action here. Looking forward to seeing cleaner trains and railway stations in India soon.


Liji Jinaraj

I am sure many of you have experienced far worse, so I have created a Flickr group, “Filthy Indian Railways“, to expose through images the lack of cleanliness on Indian Railways. So, if you have any images which expose the filthiness, do share.

You can also find emails to railway officials here:


  • mp

    Dec 28, 2009 | 11:13 am

    The “images’ that you have attached of the so called filthy toilet does not really highlight the degree of dirtiness mentioned in your article. However, I do not doubt that this deplorable condition exists. What I’m saying is that this should be dealt with much more aggressively with clear and magnified images if necessary to draw attention to it and shame the authorities into doing their jobs. India can’t even dream of becoming a global contender by just touting its 8% growth alone. There is no accountability in the public sector and it needs to change.

  • KarmaDude

    Dec 28, 2009 | 11:50 am

    These images are kind of post my cleaning effort, but I agree more stark images are needed to highlight the filthiness people are dealing with.

    Which is why I went ahead and created the flickr group, so more of these images can come out in the open. More than shaming the people in charge, I rather they see a problem exists and solve it.

    Everyone traveling by Indian trains can see it, even the authorities can, but unless they can tell what they see is a problem, a feeling of shame need not produce the right solution.

  • mp

    Dec 29, 2009 | 12:09 pm

    My point was that if an unacceptable situation exists sometimes by giving it extensive coverage where it is a constant reminder and broadly advertised on billboards even, will force the people responsible to rectify it. It will also encourage the public not to put up with it. Hopefully more people will take a cue from your efforts and it will gain momentum. This is democracy at its best when it enlightens people of their rights and responsibilities and gives them the tools to fight for it.

  • Anirudh Bhati

    Dec 31, 2009 | 11:42 am

    Duder, I’ve seen worse. You should have put up pictures before cleaning up the shit. (pun intended)

  • george h.

    Jan 3, 2010 | 10:43 pm

    you´re quite wrong mate !
    you have no idea how toilets russia look like.
    you can´t expect class toilet, when you travel by ordinary train.
    it seems you don´ t travel by train very often, or you preffer travelling in maharaja luxury coupe or a private jet.
    i´m just a foreigner, but i spent 5 happy years in india,
    travelling by train mostly from himachal p. to karnataka.
    frankly, if you like to write something important, do it !
    don´t bother public with this rubbish investigation, you just make an idiot from yourself…

  • KarmaDude

    Jan 3, 2010 | 11:27 pm

    @George, the post is mainly to point out lack of cleanliness and not about how luxurious or first class these toilets are. It is also not an attempt to compare against trains in other countries. I am Indian and the state of cleanliess in our trains matters to me, simple as that.

    FYI, I was travelling first class AC chair car!

  • titan

    Jan 20, 2010 | 12:29 pm

    Its not the railways – but that its indians who are filthy.

  • stephen evans

    Jan 24, 2010 | 11:23 pm

    Why cant Indians be proud and complain about the toilets if i was Indian I too would be going crazy over there state, and embarrassed in front of westerner thinking all Indians except this standard. Its not acceptable and someone should be held to account

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