The Great Debate (India)

Has the Railway Budget met expectations?


Mamata Banerjee’s railway budget for 2009-10 appeals to the common man. She has introduced cheaper tickets for the poor and kept passenger and freight tariffs unchanged, bringing cheer to the millions who use the world’s largest rail network daily.

11Banerjee, who took over as the new railway minister, underscores the Congress party-led government’s focus on “inclusive growth” after it was re-elected in May.

In her budget speech on Friday, she said there were plans to introduce 57 new and 12 non-stop trains, upgrade 50 stations to international standards, have air-conditioned double-decker trains, build a 1,000 mw power plant to power electric locomotives, and resume issuance of tax-free IRFC bonds.

The country’s rail network carries more than 18 million passengers and more than 2 million tonnes of freight every day on a backbone of outdated technology. Do you think the railways can execute this daunting task and make train travel in India more comfortable?