Rabindranath has said in one of his later poems that the railway icon show that this our world is the handiwork of a painter, not that of a blacksmith or artisan. A railway station is one of the features of modern civilisation. It is a place which helps railway passengers to get down from or board a train. Here passengers as well as goods and luggages are booked. Every railway station is provided with a time-chart for the arrival and departure of trains. It has its staff or officers including the station-master. The porters help passengers with their luggages.
Railway stations differ in size and importance; there are terminal stations like Howrah, Sealdah; junctions like Asansol and halt stations, like Bidhan Nagar. Some have a single platform which can receive only one train at a time. A junction has several platforms, with over-bridges.
The bigger stations have waiting rooms for all classes or passengers; restaurants, loudspeaker system to announce arrival of trains and platforms to touch. Usually the atmosphere is quiet and even sleepy when trains are off. But with the arrival of a train the station suddenly bursts into life. Passengers quit about, porters hurry forward, carrying loads of luggages; hawkers shout their wares in various tunes.
The ticket-checkers, the guard, move about in doing their functions. And then the train leaves, and the station once more is quiet. The railway station occupies an important place in the economy of the modern India. For a long-distance journey a railway train is perhaps the safest and certainly the cheapest of transport that is available to all. Trains run to carry food where their is shortage, to bring together people living in distant parts of the country closer to each other. Without these, life in a modern society is almost unthinkable.
A railway station exercises a strange fascination on all of us. Children gaze with wide-eyed wonder as a railway engine puffs its way into the station as did Apu and Durga in 'Pather Panchali'. Grown-up people, particularly in the country-side, gather on the platform to greet the incoming or see off out-going passengers.
I love to visit a railway station to have a sight of the multitude of men and women that crowd the platform; some alighting from the train; others get into it for a journey. What a busy scene it is; and what a rich variety is offered to our sight.
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