New Delhi (News24 Bureau): In a major relief for common man, Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday made no changes in passenger fares and goods movement fares.
Presenting the Railway Budget for fiscal year 2016-17 in the Lok Sabha, Prabhu introduced three new superfast trains besides creation of dedicated north-south, east-west and east coast freight corridors by 2019.
He also promised rationalising of the tariff structure by undertaking a review to evolve competitive rates vis-a-vis other modes of transport and to expand the freight basket as a means of additional revenue mobilisation. The three new superfast trains include 'Humsafar', which will be a fully air-conditioned 3AC service with option of meals. 'Tejas', believed to give a glimpse of the future of train travel in India, features speed up to 130 km per hour with onboard services such as entertainment, local cuisine and wi-fi. The two trains are expected to ensure cost recovery through tariff and non-tariff measures.
Whereas, 'Uday' will be an overnight double-decker along with 'Utkrisht' double-decker air-conditioned yatri express on the busiest routes.
Below are the highlights from Prabhu's Railway Budget for 2016-17:
· 33% sub-quota for women under all reserved categories.
· The cleaning of toilets by requests through SMS.
· New policy of multi-purpose stalls at station to provide multiple services like milk and medicines.
· Local cuisine of choice will be made available to passengers.
· We are extending e-catering to all rail stations.
· IRCTC will begin to manage catering service in phased manner.
· We'll include e-ticket facility for foreign debit and credit card holders.
· We'll open cancellation facility through 139 helpline number.
· Journalists to get facility of e-booking of tickets on concessional passes.
· IRCTC will make available local cuisine of choice, hygienic food.
· LIC has agreed invest Rs. 1.5 lakh crore over 5 years on extremely favourable terms.
· All new Railway stations to be built as per Accessible India guidelines.
· We are planning to introduce bar-coded tickets on pilot basis to tackle menace of ticketless travel.
· Overnight double-decker trains to be introduced on business travel routes.
· We have opened long awaited Broad Gauge Lumding-Silchar section in Assam, connecting Barak Valley with rest of country.
· Long distance superfast train Antyodaya Express for unreserved passsengers.
· Fully unreserved superfast trains to be introduced on dense traffic routes.
· We intend to publish Rail Bandhu magazine in all regional languages.
· Elevated rail corridors from Churchgate to Virar and CST to Panvel on the cards.
· We'll install GPS-based digital display in coaches for showing upcoming stations.
· We intend taking up on priority passenger amenities and beautification of stations.
· We have also revamped our internal audit system with view to bringing in efficiency in working practices.
· Coolies will be called ' Sahayaks '.
· Children's menu, baby foods, baby boards to be made available for travelling mothers.
· We're skilling of front-end staff employed through service providers.
· We're planning to re-imagine design of coaches.
· We're working with insurance companies for optional insurance to passengers.
· We've introduced Sarthi Seva in Konkan Railways for help to senior citizens; will expand this service.
· We'll introduce Deen Dayal coaches for long distance trains for unreserved passengers.
· A full-fledged Railway University soon.
· A single accident or loss of a single life causes me great sorrow and anguish.
· Safety record has become better. 20% less accidents this year than last year but a lot needs to be done.
· CCTV network has been provided at 311 railway stations.
· Walls of many stations have been converted to murals, also contributing to social awareness.
· Railways to increase the quota of lower berths for women and senior citizens.
· We will formulate a framework where net saving from electrification will be able to finance capital expenditure.
· It is proposed to undertake bidding for redevelopment of few large and medium stations.
· Enhanced capacity of e-ticketing system from 2000 tickets/min to 7,200/min.
· Wi-Fi at 100 railway stations this year and 400 next year.
· There is an increase in seat quota this year; 50% up for senior citizens.
· We introduced 1,780 ticket-vending machines.
· Swacch Bharat: 17,000 bio-toilets and additional toilets to be provided by end of this Fiscal Year.
· 1,600 km of electrification this year and 2,000 km proposed for the next year.
· More than 1 lakh telephone calls are made everyday to seek inputs from passengers.
· The common people have always been the focus of all our initiatives.
· We have received in-principle approval from 17 States to form joint ventures. Cabinet decision to allow JVs with States for rail projects opens new vistas for ownership in railway sector.
· North-East India, especially Mizoram and Manipur, to be connected through broad gauge soon.
· We will commission 2,800 km of new tracks in next year.
With PTI inputs