Minutes before the Mumbai-Manmad Panchavati Express, converted into hi-end Linke-Hofmann-Busch class from on Wednesday, chugged into the station, the man who was an integral part of that transformation, died while waiting on the platform to welcome the train.
Bipin Gandhi, 66, suffered a heart attack and died on the spot, railway police said, adding they have registered a case of accidental death.
Gandhi, founder of NGO Rail Parishad, was rushed to a nearby hospital, where doctors declared him dead. His body will be taken to Bhuj in Gujarat for last rites, family sources said.
Hundreds of passengers regularly travel on this train that runs between Mumbai and Manmad in Nashik district.
Gandhi was credited with turning the C3 A/C coach – also called the Adarsh coach – on the Panchavati Express into a unique phenomenon.
The Adarsh coach allows entry only to monthly season ticket holders and its passengers follow a voluntary code of conduct.
Other than ensuring strict prohibition on consumption of liquor, chewing tobacco and playing cards, the passengers of Adarsh Coach also adhere to cleanliness guidelines, switch off lights during daytime, change seat covers and curtains, conduct regular pest control and take care of small maintenance needs.
The concept of Adarsh Coach was started as an experiment by Gandhi, a Nashik resident who was a regular commuter on the train since 1981.
He had heard people talking about how comfortable and pleasing air travel was and decided to do something to change the situation.
In 2001, he founded Rail Parishad and spent the next few years discussing the concept of an Adarsh coach with like-minded individuals.
The Adarsh coach was started in March 2007, after he took up the issue with Railway officials.
With the help of voluntary contributions from regular passengers, the Adarsh coach also maintains a well-equipped first-aid box, a lost-and-found box and a diary containing details of its commuters.
Besides keeping the train clean and comfortable for the passengers, regular commuters have formed an informal support system that enriches the life of every passenger. Birthdays, anniversaries and even wedding receptions for the newly married are hosted on the Adarsh Coach.
In 2013, regular passengers and Nashik residents, Shyam and Sarika Jadhav got married on the Adarsh Coach, with a priest performing the rituals and nearly 110 guests attending the ceremony.