Science Express is a unique science exhibition mounted on 16-coach AC train custom-built for Department of Science & Technology (DST). It has been travelling successfully for past 9 years across India and overed over 1,50,000 km across the country, receiving more than 1.50 crore visitors at 400+ halts, in 1500+ days. It is thus the largest, the longest running and the most visited mobile science exhibition in India, and perhaps in the world and has six entries in Limca Book of Records. From 2007 to 2011 the train travelled as ‘Science Express’ displaying cutting-edge research and spreading awareness about strengths of science in meeting global challenges, including latest discoveries & innovations in the field of modern science. 12 coaches were thematically designed by Noble laureates from Max Planck Society, Germany using interactive exhibits, models and audio-visual displays. After 4 successful phases, it was redesigned on the theme Biodiversity and from 2012-2014, it travelled as Science Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS), a unique collaboration between DST and Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC), Govt. of India. DST had put up exhibition on the themes of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Water, Sustainable Environment and Energy Conservation. After 7 successful tours across India, it was redeveloped and from 15 October 2015, it is running as ‘Science Express– Climate Action Special (SECAS)’ as a collaborative initiative of DST, MoEFCC, and Ministry of Railway, Government of India. It aims to create awareness among various sections of society, especially students, as to how Climate Change can be combated through mitigation and adaptation.
Though a project of this nature has its inherent complexities, one of the major challenges is management of visitors, especially on days when the number crosses 10,000 odd. Each phase of Science Express is spread over 6-7 months of running and we cover 50-60 locations across India. Usually, we keep the first half of the day dedicated to organized visits by schools by prior appointment. However, on an average, in each phase, at 20-25 halts, the number goes way beyond 20,000 each day. Despite our best efforts like sending invites way in advance to schools and giving them time slots, all the planning goes haywire. The school buses crowd the entrance of Railway Stations, children queue up for their turn which sometimes waiting for hours for their turn, and then just push jostle their way inside. In the process they get only 40-60 minutes inside the train and just catch glimpses of the exhibits. Entry to exhibition is free to all, being a public funded project, and Indian Railway also does not insist on Platform ticket. Though the visitors still seem to enjoy this visit, how can we afford the visitors a more fulfilling experience? For more details please visit website: www.sciencexpress.in.
Sample data required: Yes; Though the number of visitors vary from just a few hundred to tens of thousand each day, we can assume 2-3 scenarios: About 10,000 which is the daily average recorded over past 9 years of operations; 20,000+ visitors that throng it in mostly Tier II, III towns for about 50-60 days in each phase (run) of the train.