Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s second Railway Budget speech was focussed around a constant theme – reorganize, restructure and rejuvenate Indian Railways.
New trains, coaches, better facilities, and enhanced comfort – these are some of the major highlights and announcements from the Budget about how the common Indian will benefit:
Source: Smeet Chowdhury/Flickr
1. There is no hike in passenger fares.
2. The Minister announced that all unmanned level crossings will be eliminated by 2020. One thousand unmanned level crossings were eliminated in the year 2015/16.
3. 17,000 bio-toilets in coaches and additional toilets in 475 stations to come up before the close of this financial year.
4. 100 railway stations will be provided with WiFi this year, and 400 by next year.
5. Senior citizens and women travellers to have increased quota this year. Lower berth quota for senior citizens has been increased by 50%.
6. Deen Dayal coaches will be introduced for long distance trains for unreserved passengers. These coaches will have potable water and more mobile charging points.
7. Tejas, a new train service, will operate at speeds of 130 km/hr and above and will offer on-board services such as entertainment, local cuisine, WiFi, etc.
8. For the benefit of infants and mothers on-board, children’s menu and baby foods will be made available.
9. Trains will have information boards showing all the on-board services, and GPS based digital displays inside coaches will provide real time information regarding upcoming stations.
10. Facility of cancellation will be opened to the helpline number 139, after verification using the one time password sent on the registered phone number.
11. Bar-coded tickets will be introduced on a pilot basis to solve the problem of ticket-less travelling.
12. Sarathi Seva in Konkan Railways will be expanded to help senior citizens and passengers with disabilities. Passengers will be able 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.
13. Hourly, online booking of retiring rooms will be handed over to IRCTC.
14. Humsafar, a fully air-conditioned third AC train service with an optional service for meals, will be introduced.
15. Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri Express (UDAY), an overnight double-decker service, will be introduced. It will run on the busiest routes and will increase the carrying capacity by almost 40%.