Bullet trains; Slew of passenger amenities in rail budget
New Delhi: Bullet Trains; Slew of Passenger Amenities in Rail Budget, In its bid to bring rail journey at par with air travel in terms of comfort, amenities, safety and speed, the Modi government, in its maiden Railway Budget, unveiled a slew of announcements that include introduction of Bullet Trains and hi-speed trains, e-ticketing, bio-toilets, wi-fi and workstations in the train.
- Rly minister Sadananda Gowdapresents budget for 2014-15
- FDI, PPP for facelift to Railways
- First bullet train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad with full FDI
- Having already raised the fares, govt lays thrust on modernisation
- Corporates to adopt stations
- Cleaning activities in 50 major stations to be outsourced
New Delhi: In its bid to bring rail journey at par with air travel in terms of comfort, amenities, safety and speed, the Modi government, in its maiden Railway Budget, unveiled a slew of announcements that include introduction of Bullet Trains and hi-speed trains, e-ticketing, bio-toilets, wi-fi and workstations in the train. Top 10 stations will be revamped for airport-like look and feel, with state-of-the-art-facilities, leveraging land and air space in and around the stations.
Freeing the Railways of the socialist stranglehold, Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda announced the opening of the Railways for FDI and going in for the PPP model in all railway infrastructure works, barring operations. Pre-cooked, ready-to-eat meals of reputed brands will be served in the trains, besides the option of ordering regional cuisine through emails, SMS and smart phones. SMS will also be used for wake-up calls for passengers, destination arrival alerts and station navigation information system.
At the railway stations, food courts will be set up, besides the facility of digital reservation charts that will also be provided. Having already raised the passenger fare by 14.2 per cent ahead of the Rail Budget, the Railway Minister’s thrust was on modernisation and introducing reforms in the Railways.
Since it is not feasible to have Bullet Trains in most of the sectors as it requires new infrastructure, the Modi government embarked on an ambitious plan to have a Diamond Quadrilateral Network of High Speed Rail, connecting major Metros and growth centres of the country. A provision of Rs 100 crore has been made in the Budget for high speed project.
The speed of the existing trains will go up from 160 kmph to 200 kmph in select centres, so as to significantly reduce travel time between major cities, like Secunderabad-Nagpur and Hyderabad-Chennai. The other sectors include Delhi-Agra, Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Kanpur, Nagpur-Bilaspur, Mysore-Bengaluru-Chennai and Mumbai-Goa. As many as 58 new trains were announced in the Rail Budget, which include 5 Jansadharan trains, 5 Premium trains, six AC Express trains, 27 Express trains, 8 passenger trains, Two Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) services and two Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) services.
Shunning populism, Sadanand Gowda embarked on course-correction, saying that if he wanted claps, he could have got it by delivering a populist budget. Instead, he chose to nurse the railways back to health, through stern measures like proposing near plan holiday approach; prioritising and setting timelines for completion of ongoing projects; devising mechanisms for raising funds for rail infrastructure; strategic partnership and transparency in procurements; and leveraging Railway PSUs resources for infrastructure projects. Defending the rail fare hike, the Railway Minister cited a Sanskrit quotation that states, “The medicine appears as bitter in the beginning, but is like nectar in the end,” holding out Modi’s pre-poll promise that Good Times are round the corner. He, however, did not rule out future rail fare hike saying that it will be linked to revisions in fuel price hike.
At all the major stations, escalators and lifts will be introduced through the PPP route, battery-operated carts will be used to ferry differently-abled and senior citizens. Corporates, NGOs and charitable institutions will be roped in to provide passenger amenities in all the major railway stations. Keeping his promise of introducing Bullet Trains, the Modi government announced the first Bullet Train on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai sector, before it is extended to other areas.