Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has presented his maiden – and his government’s second – Railway Budget. The minister stressed the urgency in cleanliness , safety and modernisation and the efficient use of technology in Railways as they move ahead in the future . The minister assured that government is committed to the betterment of the Railways. He also complimented Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the amount of attention that he is giving to the Railways. “PM has a dream to improve the Railways. He is the first PM to give Railways the importance it deserves. This is the only means of travelling for the common man. It is our responsibility to bring it back on the track,” he said.
Even as the minister has ruled out any lowering of passenger fares, a clear direction is awaited on how he proposes to capitalise on the decision six months ago of allowing 100 percent foreign equity in some big-ticket projects of the railways, and greater public-private partnerships.
Here are some of the highlights :
* In the first railway budget of the Modi government in July 2014, fares were increased by 14.2% and freight by 6.5%.
* Following the footsteps of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his stress on ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign, Prabhu also focussed ‘Swachh Rail’ drive, saying ‘Swachh Rail, Swachh Bharat’.
* He proposed to build new toilets and bio toilets in passenger coaches. He also intends to replace another 17,000 toilets and introduce vacuum toilets like the ones used in aeroplane.
* He appealed to people saying ‘railways is your travelling home, please keep it clean’. He also proposed the availability of disposable linen on payment at all stations.
* In next 5 years, our aim is to increase existing capacity for high density networks
* Investment in railways will create jobs. Investment in railways is necessary for environment sustainability
* 492 section of Railways running at a capacity of more than 100%; 228 running between 80-100%
* Initiating an SMS alert service to inform passengers about arrival &departure of the trains
* Surveillance cameras on select mainline and ladies compartments
* Onboard entertainment on some Shatabdi trains to be introduced
* 17000 more toilets to be replaced by bio-toilets
* Railways plan to move towards paperless ticketing. Passengers will now be able to book food options from IRCTC website.
* Passengers can select own food while booking tickets, experiment launched in 108 trains
* Rail cleaning will be outsourced, newly-manufactured coaches will be braille enabled to ease travelling for the blind:
*Railways to introduce surveillance cameras on select mainline and ladies compartments
* More general class coaches to be introduced, ladders to be replaced in coaches
Fast track highest priority, investment 84% higher; 77 new projects. Estimated cost is over Rs. 96,000 Crore: