Railway Minister- Mr Suresh Prabhu- announced the much-awaited railway budget of 2015 this afternoon. The budget was aligned to some of the important projects of PM Modi like the Swachcha Bharat Mission, Make in India and the Digital India campaign. The government has decided to rope in the private sector to assist in infrastructure development and the last mile connectivity. Budget 2015 focuses on revival of the rather poorly-managed processes, systems and practices of Indian Railway.
In case you missed the budget presentation, here is a quick recap of all major announcements:
No Hike in Fare for Passengers- The most important part of the budget was that it spared the passengers from paying an increased amount as fare. This reflects the government’s objective to be in the best interests of the population in general.
‘Operation 5 Minutes’- The catchiest part of this budget was ‘Operation 5 Minutes’. Under this scheme, the passengers travelling unreserved will be allowed to get a ticket within 5 minutes of entering the station.
24×7 Helpline- 138- Passengers can now file their complaints related to railway in real-time through the Helpline 138, available for the passengers round the clock. This line will be active from March ‘15, onwards.
Investment worth 8,50,000 Cr for 5 Years- Mr Prabhu also announced that over the next five years, a total investment of Rs 8,50,000 Crores will be made in the railway industry. The money will be procured from various sources including pension funds and multilateral development banks.
CCTV Surveillance- For the safety of women in the ladies compartment and other specific coaches, a provision of complete surveillance has been announced in the budget.
Rail Display Network- Outlining the aim of modernizing the railway network in the country, Mr Prabhu announced the introduction of a centrally managed Rail Display Network over the next two years. More than 2000 stations have been targeted under the initiative. Moreover, major cities will host satellite railway terminals.
Railway Research Centres- four universities across the country will host four Railway Research Centres that would make an important part of their curriculum.
Bookings 120 Days in Advance- As mentioned above, this budget is entirely in favor of the general public. Passengers can now book the tickets 120 days in advance. They can also book wheelchair online for the senior citizens.
Underbridges and Overbridges- To replace 3,438 railway crossings, the construction of as many as 917 overbridges and underbridges has been announced.
In addition to these, other important announcements include speed increase to 200 km/h on nine corridors, cell phone charging facilities in compartments and making more stations Wi Fi enabled. The introduction of bio toilets and vacuum toilets in trains has also been planned. Last mile connectivity projects will be given the top priority status.
Seeing the ambitious Railway Budget of 2015, the Indian Railway is highly expected to witness a revival.