Railway Budget 2014: Highlights at a glance

July 8, 2014

In his maiden budget, Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda said the bulk of future railway projects will be financed through public-private partnerships and his ministry would seek cabinet approval for allowing foreign direct investment in the state-owned network, excluding passenger services.

India’s railway, the world’s fourth-largest, has suffered from years of low investment and populist policies to subsidise fares. This has turned a once-mighty system into a slow and congested network that crimps economic growth.

The Narendra Modi government pushed through a steep hike in rail passenger and freight fares last month, and expectations were high there would be bold proposals to improve the railways – a lifeline for 23 million Indians every day.

On Tuesday, Gowda proposed the introduction of bullet trains between Mumbai and Ahmedabad; the revamp of e-ticketing services; the deployment of women police on ladies’ coaches; and setting up a railway university.

Here are some of the key announcements:

New trains: five Jansadharan, five premium and six air-conditioned trains; 27 express trains, eight passenger, five DEMU and two MEMU services; 11 train extensions.

– Resource mobilisation through leveraging PSU resources, foreign direct investment and public private participation.

– 40 percent higher allocation for cleanliness on trains and platforms. Cleanliness operations would be outsourced at 50 major stations; use of CCTVs at stations will be extended to monitor cleanliness activities.

– Feedback service through Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) on the quality of food. Food can be ordered by SMS and phone.

– Bullet train proposed on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad sector.

– Proposal to recruit 4000 women RPF constables to escort passengers in ladies’ coaches; mobile phones for all RPF escort teams in trains.

– Revamping and introducing next- generation e-ticketing system. Wi-fi in A1 and A category stations (based on earnings) and in select trains.

– Setting up Diamond Quadrilateral network of high-speed trains connecting major metros and growth centres.

– Summer internships for under-graduates of engineering and management studies.

– A railway university for technical and non-technical subjects.

– To introduce pre-cooked (ready-to-eat) meals from reputed brands in a phased manner. Quality Assurance Mechanism through third-party audit of catering services; collecting feedback through IVRS on quality of food.

– Battery-operated carts to facilitate differently-abled and senior citizens to reach any platform comfortably at all major stations.

– Eco-tourism and education tourism in north-eastern states: special trains for pilgrim circuits.

Full coverage: Budget 2014 | Click here

Slideshow: Trains at a glance | Click here

(Editing by Tony Tharakan; follow Shashank on Twitter at @shashankchouhan and Tony @TonyTharakan. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

No comments so far

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/