India Insight

Railway Budget 2014: Highlights at a glance

February 12, 2014

Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge left train fares and freight rates unchanged on Wednesday, in an interim rail budget ahead of a national election due by May.

It wasn’t really a surprise. In 2012, Dinesh Trivedi was forced to resign as railways minister after his decision to raise passenger fares for the first time in eight years prompted a furious response from his own party — the Trinamool Congress — that was part of the Congress-led coalition government at the time.

The government did raise fares last year, this time with a Congressman at the helm of affairs, as a cash-strapped railways ministry tried to raise money to pay its employees.

But there was no repeat of that on Wednesday, as any hike in passenger fares would have run the risk of upsetting commuters in a crucial election year. The government limited itself to announcing some people-friendly measures without increasing fares.

Here are some of the key announcements for passengers travelling on the world’s fourth-largest railway network:

– More than 70 trains introduced, including 17 premium and 39 express trains.

– Updates on passenger name record (PNR) status via SMSes.

– Passenger services to Katra, near the popular Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir, to start soon. Trial runs on the extended railway line from Udhampur are under way.

– Meghalaya and Itanagar (in Arunachal Pradesh) in India’s Northeast to be connected to rail network.

– Indian Railways to explore options to raise trains speeds to up to 200 kilometres an hour on trains to Agra and Chandigarh from India’s capital. A feasibility study for high-speed trains between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is already under way.

– An independent Rail Tariff Authority being set up to advise the government on fixing fares and freight rates, a step that would help rationalize fares in the coming years.

– System of passenger upgrades to be extended to second-class sitting, AC chair car and executive chair car.

– Online booking of retiring rooms at important railway stations.

– Online booking of meals on trains at several stations.

– Mobile phone ticketing to be started in the unreserved segment.

– Increasing the number of automatic ticket vending machines.

– Indian Railways considering proposal to allow foreign direct investment.

– ‘Green Curtains’ to be set up at railways stations in Agra and Jaipur as a pilot project, which would involve constructing a boundary wall and landscaping around railway tracks .

– Increasing the reach of a new bio-toilet design that has been introduced in about 2,500 coaches.

– Portable fire-extinguishers to be kept in railway coaches and induction-based cooking to be introduced in pantry cars.

– Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and other improved safety systems to be introduced.

(Editing by Tony Tharakan and Robert MacMillan; Follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyTharakan , Robert @bobbymacReports and Shashank @shashankchouhan )

(This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission | Source: Official Press Information Bureau documents; Railway minister’s speech)

Comments
One comment so far | RSS Comments RSS

What is requited to note, Govt has never ascertained reasons why Indian Railways is incurring losses since decades, & what is surprising even then govt increases staff wages.

Indian Railways have yet not installed CCTVs on platforms, in train coaches, at entry point of stations, no fire fighting equipments on plat forms, in train coaches, means passengers safety & security totally ignored

Please observe, almost all trains are going packed, even then Indian Railway is making loss ,Mumbai local train ,the condition of commuters is miserable because of heavy rush ,still railway is incurring loss.

Indian Railways has to control corruption, unnecessary expenses .surprisingly RAILWAY ZONAL OFFICES are unaware about vacant plots / space in their zone

Posted by VAISHNAV | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •