Railway Budget–No Hike in Passenger Fare This Year– 65,000 Additional Berths to be Installed

Railway Budget–No Hike in Passenger Fare This Year– 65,000 Additional Berths  to be Installed

New Delhi: There is no hike in passenger fare in this year’s (2016-17) Railway Budget presented in the Parliament today.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, presenting the Budget, said the budget seeks to fulfil the long-felt desires of the common man such as reserved accommodation on trains available on demand, time tabled freight trains, high end technology to improve safety record, elimination of all unmanned level crossings, improved punctuality, higher average speed of freight trains, semi high speed trains running along the golden quadrilateral, zero direct discharge of human waste by the year 2020. He said the Cabinet approval has been received for re-development of stations under PPP mode. He said the Indian Railways budget proposes to overcome challenges by Reorganizing Restructuring and Rejuvenating Indian Railways with the Slogan “Chalo, Milkar Kuch Naya Karen’”. The strategy for this will have three pillars i.e. Nav Arjan – New revenues, Nav Manak – New norms, and Nav Sanrachna – New Structures.
The Minister said that in order to make travel on Indian Railways more comfortable, the Indian Railways proposes to give more facilities to the passengers. 65,000 additional berths will be provided in the trains and 2500 water vending machines will be installed . The railways have developed world’s first Bio-Vaccum toilet and 17,000 Bio-toilets will be provided in the trains. With the purpose of improving punctuality of trains , operations audit from Ghaziabad to Mughalsarai section will be introduced. The Indian Railways proposes to introduce 1,780 Automatic Ticket Vending Machines all over the country with mobile apps and GoIndia smartcard for cashless purchase of UTS and PRS tickets. The capacity of e-ticketing system will be enhanced from 2,000 tickets per minute to 7,200 tickets per minute to support 1,20,000 concurrent users as against 40,000 earlier. 400 more stations will be provided with Wi Fi facilities.
As a part of social initiatives, online booking of wheelchairs and Braille enabled new coaches will be introduced for the Divyang. Increased quota of lower berths for senior citizens and women and reserving middle bays for women in reserved coaches has been proposed. Passengers security will be enhanced through more helplines and CCTVs.
To reduce accidents at level crossings, the budget proposes to eliminate 1000 unmanned level crossings and closures of 350 manned level crossings. 820 Rail Over Bridges (ROB)/ Rail Under Bridges (RUB) will be completed during the current financial year and work is going on in additional 1350 of them.
Referring to the progress of Dedicated Freight Corridor Project, the Railway Minister said that almost all contracts for civil engineering works will be awarded by the end of this financial year. He said Rs.24,000 crore worth contracts were awarded since November 2014 as against Rs. 13,000 crore contracts awarded during the last six years. He said Railways proposes to take up North-South, East-West and East Coast freight corridors through innovative financing including PPP.
The following are some of the highlights of the Railway Budget: Referring to the financial performance the Minister said during 2015-16 a saving of Rs.8720 crore could be achieved neutralizing the most of the revenue shortfall with operating ratio of 90%. He said the budget proposes operating ratio of 92%, restricting growth of ordinary working expenses by 11.6% after building in immediate impact of 7th PC, reduction in diesel and electricity consumption and Revenue generation of Rs. 1,84,820 crore for 2016-17. He said during 2015-16 investment would be close to double of average of previous five years.
Railways would be able to achieve annualized savings of Rs.3000 crore in the energy sector during the next financial year itself, a year earlier than announced. He said this could be achieved by procuring power directly at competitive rates. Social media will be used as a tool to bring in transparency. All procurement including procurement of works will be moved to e-platform. The trial of awarding tender electronically was successful and it will be rolled out on Pan India basis in 2016-17.
Quality of Travel
The Ministry proposes to take various measures to improve quality of travel which will include introduction of unreserved superfast Antyodaya Express Trains, introduction of Tezas train with the speed of 130 Km. and above with onboard entertainment and Wi Fi etc., unreserved Deen Dayalu coaches with portable water and higher number of mobile charging points and introduction of AC and non AC double decker trains on busy routes with the potential to increase carrying capacity by almost 40%. Sale of tickets through hand held terminals; e- ticketing facility to foreign debit/credit cards; bar coded tickets, expansion of Vikalp – train on demand to provide choice of accommodation in specific trains to wait-listed passengers. E-booking of tickets facility on the concession passes available to journalists; facility of cancellation through the 139 helpline post verification using ‘One Time Password’ sent on registered phone number, CCTV cameras on tatkal windows and periodic audit of PRS website will also be introduced.
It is proposed to convert all operational halts into commercial halts for the benefit of common man. Sarathi Seva in Konkan Railway will be expanded to help the old and disabled passenger. The existing services for enabling passengers to book battery operated cars, porter services, etc. on a paid basis in addition to the existing pick up and drop, and wheel chair services will be strengthened.
It is proposed to take up on priority the provision of passenger amenities and beautification on stations at pilgrimage centres including Ajmer, Amritsar, Bihar Sharif, Chengannur, Dwarka, Gaya, Haridwar, Mathura, Nagapattinam, Nanded, Nasik, Pali, Parasnath, Puri, Tirupati, Vailankanni, Varanasi and Vasco. Aastha circuit trains will be introduced to connect important pilgrim centres.
Rail Bandhu Mazagine will be provided in all reserved coaches in all regional languages.
17000 Bio-Toilets in Trains
In pursuance of mission Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat, that Indian Railways will provide 17,000 bio-toilets in trains and additional toilets at 475 stations before the close of this financial year. 74 more trains have been added under On-board Housekeeping Service and another 400 are to be covered soon, leading to a total number of almost 1000 trains under the scheme.
Punctuality performance of passenger trains has been a matter of concern for several decades. Besides internal reasons, there are also external reasons such as agitations on railway tracks, which lead to punctuality losses. The Minister appealed to fellow citizens to desist from this as it causes loss, not only to the nation but also to them as passengers.(NSS)