Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on 25 February 2016 presented the Railway Budget 2016-17 in the Parliament. This was the the second railway budget for Suresh Prabhu and third rail budget of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government.
Below are the highlights of this Budget:
Theme of the Budget:
- ‘Chalo, Milkar Kuch Naya Karen’ for overcoming challenges – Reorganize, Rejuvenate, Restructure Indian Railways
- Three pillars strategy: Nav Arjan – New revenues, Nav Manak – New norms, Nav Sanrachna – New Structures.
- No new hike in passenger fares and Freight fares. Promised to bring down freight rates and double non-tariff revenue for the ailing national transport.
- For the unreserved passenger: (i) Antyodaya Express superfast unreserved service.
- (ii) Deen Dayalu unreserved coaches with potable water facility and higher number of mobile charging points.
- For the reserved passenger: (i) Humsafar: Fully air-conditioned service with an optional service for meals.
- (ii) Tejas: It will operate at speeds of 130 kmph and above and shall showcase the future of train travel in India. It will offer onboard services such as local cuisine, entertainment, WiFi, etc.
- (iii)UDAY (Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri) Express: Overnight double-decker express on the busiest routes. Potential to increase carrying capacity by almost 40%.
- (iv) SMART (Specially Modified Aesthetic Refreshing Travel) Coaches: These coaches are designed to ensure higher carrying capacity and provision of new amenities including automatic doors, bio-vacuum toilets, bar-code readers, water-level indicators, accessible dustbins, ergonomic seating, vending machines, improved aesthetics, LED lit boards for advertising, entertainment screens, PA system.
- Cleanliness: SMS service ‘Clean my Coach’, ranking of A1 and A railway stations based on periodic third party audit and passenger feedback, Awareness campaigns.
- Waste segregation and recycling centres, additional 30,000 bio-toilets etc.
- Catering and stalls at stations: IRCTC will manage catering services in a phased manner; explore possibility of making catering services optional, build local ownership and empowerment. Railway is extending e-catering to all rail stations. IRCTC will make available local cuisine of choice, hygienic food. Travelling mothers, Children’s menu, baby foods, baby boards will be made available.
- Women Quota: 33 per cent sub-quota for women will be provided under all reserved categories. Railways will also increase the quota of lower berths for women and senior citizens
- Rail Mitra Sewa: Strengthening the existing services for enabling passengers to book battery operated cars, porter services, etc.
- Expanding Sarathi Seva in Konkan Railway to help the disabled and old passengers.
- Ticketing: Capacity of e-ticketing system has been enhanced from 2000 tickets per min to 7,200 per min Railway introduces 1,780 ticket-vending machines. e-ticket facility for foreign debit, credit card holders
- Mobile Applications: Integrating all facilities into two mobile apps that will deal with ticketing issues and for receipt and it will also redressal of complaints and suggestions.
- Pilgrimage centres: The provisions of passenger amenities and beautification on stations at pilgrimage centres including will be undertaken on priority basis. Aastha circuit trains will connect important pilgrim centres.
- High Speed Rail: From Mumbai to Ahmedabad will be undertaken with the assistance of the Government of Japan. Prime benefit would be providing technology advancements and new manufacturing capability.
- Entertainment: Invite FM Radio stations for providing train borne entertainment. Extension of ‘Rail Bandhu’ in all regional languages to all reserved classes of travellers.
- Rationalising the tariff structure: Tariff policy will be revived to evolve a competitive rate structure, signing long term tariff contracts customers using pre-determined price escalation principles with key freight.
- Building terminal capacity: Developing Rail side logistics parks and warehousing in PPP mode, TRANSLOC (Transport Logistics Company of India) will develop 10 goods sheds in 2016-17.
- India’s first rail auto hub will be inaugurated in Chennai. Rail University will come at Vadodara, Gujarat.
- Development of cold storage facilities on vacant land near freight terminals in which local farmers and fisherman will be given preferential usage of the facility.
- Nurturing customers: Appointing key Customer Managers to liaison major freight stakeholders. Each Zonal Railway will develop customer commitment charter indicating service level commitments of Indian Railways.
- Travel Insurance to passengers: Optional travel insurance will be offered for rail journeys at the time of booking.
- Process Improvements: (i) Finalization of EPC projects standard document to implement at least 20 projects in 2016-17. In future, endeavouring all works valuing above Rs. 300 crore through EPC contracts.
- (ii) Contracts based on performance output parameters in order to review service contracts to integrate them outcome focused and simpler.
- (iii) Leveraging technology for project management, using latest drone technology and Geo Spatial based satellite technology for remotely reviewing the physical progress across major projects. GPS-based digital display in coaches for showing upcoming stations.
- (iv) System-wide Information Technology integration through innovative partnership models.
- Rail Development Authority: It will be established as statutory body to enable fair pricing of railway services and promote competition, protect customer interests and determine efficiency standards.
- Tourism: (i) Indian Railways will partner with State Governments for operating tourist circuit trains, promotion of tourism through UNESCO world heritage Railways and Railway museums.
- (ii) To spread awareness about our National Animal, the Tiger, complete packages including train journey, safaris and accommodation to cover the wildlife circuit comprising Kanha, Pench and Bandhavgarh will be offered.