Strategic approach to improve social and emotional well-being in Indian railway.


The Challenge

The railway employees are an integral part of the Indian Railway operations. As well as passengers are an important part of the business process. The railway stations are the contributors to the country’s economic and social development. It create jobs and transport links and provide other benefits to the local communities. The successful delivery of services lies in the railway staff’s productivity. It is also connected to their well-being.

How the railway station space, the assets and the services be re-imagined or redesigned to reduce stress and to increase well-being for both users and railway employees? 


My role

The whole design process from discovery to final design



4 months



A strategic framework to mitigate stress level in railway employees. The framework can help government and policymakers to consider design for emotion in public services. This can help railway employees and commuters in the long term.


It should be noted that this project was a four-month capstone project, followed by a fixed course plan. It helped me to deepen my knowledge in research-driven design and to explore emotional design in the public sector and to find out ways it can be implemented.






The first step was to make a research plan in order to complete the project on time. I have started with secondary research and parallelly started my primary research. The primary research consisted of contextual inquiry, user interviews(employees, commute and user who directly or indirectly get affected by railway stations services).


Stakeholder’s Mapping


Through research, I could map out all the stakeholder’s involved. This was helpful to analyse the influencers in a different part of the service system.

Stakeholder's map

Understanding the context


Mapping of users and services around the railway station. Understanding the journey of users in railway station environment and beyond it. Before spending a couple of days in observing the users, mapped out the services which are linked to the railway service system.

To explore the connections of the railway station with the community’s growth. Mapping of economical, social and emotional connection with the transport service system.

To understand further in and around the context I have used the following research methods –

• Observations

• What/how/why?

• Qualitative interviews

• Empathy mapping


Understanding the users


After qualitative research, I used thematic analysis to find out emerging themes in the findings. The semi-structured questionnaire has been prepared to understand the railway employees needs, motivations and emotions. In addition to this to understand more about railway services.

The user interview has been done with the users and to understand the users’ experience in service environment.


Thematic Analysis  


After qualitative research, I used thematic analysis to find out emerging themes in the findings.

Themes from interview data
Thematic map

Experience map


I have mapped out the experience of railway employees and also the commuters. This helped me to visualize both sides of the picture and also understanding the common emotions in the service environment.

Experience map - Railway employees
Experience map - commuters

Understanding the service-system of railway station


After analysing users’ and railway employees’ needs, motivations and emotions, it was important to map the service system of the station. This has helped me to understand the services offered to the passengers and also the different sectors in the Indian railway.The concept map of the Indian railway station is showing railway station services and the links between them. Visualizing information derived from secondary and primary research, to understand the relationships of concepts in the system. 

The concept map was to understand the complex railway station system. To visualize and organize the pieces of information and also helped to build a hierarchical network of railway station system.

Concept map

Research Findings

Insight #1
Resource consumption 

A railway station serves a community in different ways, not only providing transportation but also helps in the economical and social growth of the community. While doing research, I noticed there are different ways in which community uses the railway station. Some of them uses the available resources in unsustainable way.

Insight #2
Railway employees and station environment

The railway employees have a very stressful job, as they have to serve a large population on a daily basis. The concern for user safety and employees are always a priority for railways. Railways are incorporating new technologies to enhance user experience, but there is a section of users who are not aware of such services and hence can not take advantage of it. So, to retain the users from different backgrounds, railways maintain both offline and online services.

Insight #3
Impact of online and offline services

The impact of incorporating new technologies in current system and maintaining offline and online services leads to strenuous working hours in railway employees.

Insight #4
Emotional distress due to multiple peak hours

The railway employees have very busy work hours. They need to serve huge population. This hectic schedule affects their social and emotional well-being. So, the train station must provide the experience which could create joyful moments and avoid the negative emotions in the crowd and at the time of hassle. The safety and security of railway employees and users is important part of Indian railway station. 

Insight #5
Railway sectors

Indian railway service delivery system has multiple sectors. They are process planning, employee management, quality management, capacity planning, passenger management, facility planning, location planning and operational activities to provide transport service. 

Insight #6
Operational staff 

To keep up with time and managing a large population at the same time, the operational staff of the Indian railway face direct and indirect pressure at the workplace.

Insight #7
Common issues which affects both passengers and railway employees

As per primary and secondary research, there are some common issues which are faced by both users and railway employees in the station environment. The issues such as crowd, delays and negative behaviour of fellow passengers/staff. This contributes to negative emotions and experiences in user and railway employee.

Causal loop diagram (CLD)


Visualizing the complex story of a problem, through causal loop diagram. The resulting diagram is providing a visual representation that will be useful to communicate the problem and recognize the multiple, interdependent effects of actions.

The sources of data collected so far through literature, secondary research, primary data(qualitative and quantitative) were used to populate the causal loop diagram. The representation helped me to put all the data together and understanding the implications of problem on social and emotional well-being, economy and environment.

The nodes are representing the variables and edges represent a connection or a relation between the two variables. This connection can be positive or negative.

Intent – To identify key variables in a system and create a concise story about a complex problem. By representing a problem from a causal perspective it helped to become more aware of the structural forces that produce this puzzling behaviour of a system.

Causal loop diagram

From Findings to concepts


I focused on the elicitation of requirements to implement potential solutions to improve the social and emotional well-being of commuters and railway employees. There requirements and causal relationship is illustrated in the table 3(A).Each row shows the causal pathway from the requirement on the left to create positive work-culture and enhance user experience in the railway station. This will lead to long term improvement in social and emotional well-being. The symbols (+) and (-) indicate a causal relationship between two variables.


Sketch to final output 

For ideation. I focused on the ways which can help in reducing the stress among railway employees. Stress management in an organisation like railways is important to maintain the well-being of not only employees but commuters and the community as a whole.
Concept 1
The measures can be taken at the workplace(from the employee side), second measures at the administration level and third measure at commuters and community level.

Concept 2

The second measure is useful to understand employees performance. A system that can be accessed by employees and administration to have a clear understanding of employees’ progress and getting feedback on the improvements at the work level.

Concept 3

At commuters and community level, there are measures that can be taken in the welfare of railway employees, such as creating awareness among commuters and community level. This will be helpful to understand the sustainable use of railway resources.

Creating awareness in commuters for new railway developments and service developments. Also about the policies which will be helpful for the commuters. Creating awareness in the commuters about improving their behaviour in a public place. 

Concept 1
Concept 2
Concept 3
Strategic framework



Design for well-being is an integrative and cross-disciplinary practice, that operates in a complex environment. Public services can be helpful in fostering the well-being of society.

Take small steps, because big changes can not be brought overnight, especially not just by an application alone. Accordingly, develop more strategically meaningful and realistically applicable tools that steer in the intended direction.

Through my research, I could understand that the public organisational structure can get affected through multiple internal and external factors. Such as policies, the involvement of government and external factors such as users, communities. So, to improve or bring any change in a working environment it was important to look at multiple factors than considering merely one factor.

I figured out three levels at which public sector organisations get affected. First at the organisation level, second at the employee level and third at the community level. All three of them have equal participation in effectively running public organisations. These three levels also affect the economy, environment and social structure of the public organisation. 


              Just say hi ! or if there is any opportunity I’d love to collaborate