Rail Budget for the year 2016-17 has been tabled by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. Even though railway is facing financial crisis, hike in rail fares has been avoided in the budget. MoS Railways, Manoj Sinha said that the Rail Budget will transform Indian Railways.
The performance of railways has not kept pace with what has been planned by the rail ministry. The total earnings have dropped dismally. The total gap is about Rs. 17,000 crore and an additional burden of the Pay Commission of Rs.32,000 crore. For the year 2016-17, Indian Railway expects the operating ratio of 92% and a revenue of Rs.1,84,820 crore next year.
New way of funding for rail projects has been introduced using institutional financing. LIC of India assured an investment of one lakh fifty thousand crores in various rail projects over the next 5 years. Railway will be setting up two locomotive factories with an estimated expenditure of Rs 40,000 crore. Three Freight Corridors – Delhi-Chennai, Kharagpur-Mumbai, Kharagpur-Vijayawada – have also been announced during budget speech. He assured the commissioning of 2,800 kms of new tracks in next year.
Isolated for decades from the main rail network, North East is getting attention from this government. North-East India, especially Mizoram and Manipur, to be connected through broad gauge soon. Many states have already connected to the mainland rail network. Lumding-Silchar section in Assam opened thus connecting Barak Valley with rest of the country; Agartala brought on to the broad gauge network.
Earlier Railway Minister proposed a new vision for rail projects – co-operative federalism . States can also invest in rail projects. Until now, 17 States came forward to form joint ventures. Cabinet decision to allow JVs with States for rail projects opens new vistas for ownership in railway sector.
Projects to keep Railways Clean
17,000 bio-toilets and additional toilets to be provided by end of the Fiscal Year 2016-17 in Swacch Bharat Abhiyan.
Railway is extending e-catering to all rail stations. The cleaning of toilets by requests through SMS. Stations include e-ticket facility for foreign debit and credit card holders. IRCTC will begin to manage catering service in phased manner. Local cuisine of choice will be made available to passengers.
Other major initiatives are ‘Clean my Coach’ service through SMS, ranking of A1 and A stations based on periodic third party audit and passenger feedback, waste segregation and recycling centres.
Technology and Indian Railways
Indian Railways introduced 1,780 ticket-vending machines. Capacity of e-ticketing system will be increased from
2000 tickets/min to 7,200/min. Wi-Fi connectivity will be implemented at 100 railway stations this year and 400 next year. CCTV network has been provided at 311 railway stations. Railway is planning a full-fledged Railway University. While thinking about safety, 20% less accidents this year than last year. Minister is pledged to take new measures with the help of technology to avoid train mishaps.
Railway minister said that Railway will install GPS-based digital display in coaches for showing upcoming stations and FM radio stations to provide train borne entertainment via PA systems. A special purpose vehicle for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high speed corridor has been registered.
Railways to increase the quota of lower berths for women and senior citizens. Fully unreserved superfast trains to be introduced on dense traffic routes. Budget introduces Deen Dayal coaches for long distance trains for unreserved passengers. Overnight double-decker trains to be introduced on business travel routes. Long distance superfast train “Antyodaya Express” to be run for unreserved passengers. Journalists to get facility of e-booking of tickets on concessional passes. Cancellation facility will be opened through 139 helpline number.
New policy of multi-purpose stalls at station to provide multiple services like milk and medicines. IRCTC will make available local cuisine of choice, hygienic food. Children’s menu, baby foods, baby boards to be made available for travelling mothers. 33% sub-quota for women under all reserved categories.
Suresh Prabhu’s missions to transform Indian Railways
Mission 25 Tonne, Mission Zero Accident, Mission PACE, Mission Hundred, Mission beyond book-keeping, Mission Capacity Utilisation.