A railway station run by the people, for the people

Rashidpura Khori stands apart for its of the people, by the people initiative.

Rajasthan has most unique railway stations in India. It is a railway station run by the people, for the people.

The station in Sikar district is as nondescript as hundreds that dot the nearly 120,000 km rail track network across the country, but it is run and maintained solely by villagers and not railway staff.

India has a number of low-traffic stations where railways have outsourced ticket sales to individuals and do not depute staff, but officials of North Western Railway zone believe their Rashidpura Khori stands apart for it’s of the people, by the people initiative.

“I am not aware of any other station that is being run by such participation of people,” says Tarun Jain, chief public relations officer of North Western Railway.

Top railway officials in Delhi did not commit on record to this uniqueness but said it was likely Rashidpura Khori was one of a kind.

On December 9, a passenger train rolled into Rashidpura Khori, about 125 km north of Jaipur, and rail operations resumed after being stopped in November 2015 for work to broad gauge the track.

Almost 90 years old, the station has had a stop-start history. Railways stopped operations at the British-era station — dating back to 1929 when it was part of princely Jaipur state — in May 2005 as it was deemed commercially unviable.

“This happened due to meager passenger load,” says Jagdish Burdak, a member of Sikar Rail Salahkar Samiti.

“Before operations stopped, five trains between Jaipur and Churu and one between Sikar and Churu stopped at the station.”

Nearly 25,000 residents of three villages — Palthana, Rashidpura and Khori — that rely on the station were disheartened but kept appealing to railway authorities to continue services in some manner.

The railways relented, but with conditions. Villagers could keep Rashidpura Khori functional if they managed to generate adequate revenue.

The temporary arrangement turned into a longer than expected victory of sorts for the villagers as they took charge.

A villager was designated to sell tickets, the rest joined hands to maintain the station. Over time, four more trains got stoppage at Rashidpura Khori.

By the time broad gauge work necessitated stalled operations again, the villagers had sustained their station for more than seven years.

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