The new Indian railway budget spells out ambitious plans.
Indian Railway Minister Sadananada Gowda in his maiden Lok Sabha railway budget presentation on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, announced some major decisions which are all set to give the Indian Railways a complete make over.
Amongst many important announcements, here are 5 major points that stood out in the entire presentation –
1. Improved online service – The Railways have proposed a real-time tracking system coupled with a next-generation e-ticketing system. The online system’s current capability is too suport 2000 ticket bookings per minute, this will be raised to a staggering 7200 tickets and it will be able to support 1,20,000 users simultaneously.
2. High-Speed train connectivity – The entire national railway corridor will be connected by high- speed trains, including the grandiose plan of a proposed bullet train on the Mumbai-Ahemdabad route. “We will raise train speeds between several cities to 160-200 km/hour,” said Gowda. Also, a “diamond quadrilateral network of high speed trains” is underway.
3. Food and sanitation hygiene – Indian railways have for long been dogged by the problem of poor food hygiene and sanitation standards aboard its trains. The minister in his presentation addressed this problem and said, “We will provide ready to eat meals, ensure quality of food, to improve quality & hygienic pre-cooked meals of reputed brands will be made available.” The number of Bio – Toilets will be increased and cleaning activities will be given top priority.
4. Safety – Considering the millions of passengers that the Indian railways ferry each year, safety standards were long in need of a complete overhaul. Gowda in his speech stated, “17,000 RPF constables will be available for trains. Coaches meant for ladies will be escorted, boundary walls will be built around stations through the PPP mode.”
5. Technological amenities – Availing of internet facility aboard the Indian railways was a long distance dream, however with the new proposed changes, things might change. WiFi services will be provided in all A1 and A-category stations and in select trains. Also, passengers can avail of mobile-based wakeup call systems and mobile-based destination arrival alerts.
When Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi was sworn into office in May, 2014, he had promised that the railway sector will be his top priority, with this new budget plan, a possibility of the nation seeing some major changes in one of its largest public sector units looks bright.