Rail Budget 2015: What’s in it for passengers
Railways minister Suresh Prabhu may not have announced new trains but unveiled a raft of measures to make rail travel more comfortable
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New Delhi: Railways minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday unveiled the railway budget for fiscal 2015-16, eschewing populist measures—like the addition of new trains—but unveiled a raft of measures to make rail travel more comfortable. Here is a look at measures in the rail budget to improve the consumer experience.
• Allocation for passenger amenities up by 67% to a proposed investment of Rs.12,500 crore for 2015-2019.
• Thrust on measurable and sustainable improvement in passenger experience and to make Indian Railways a safer means of travel
• ‘Operation 5 minutes’ for issuing unreserved tickets, hot buttons, coin-vending machines, concessional e-tickets for differently-abled travellers.
• 200 more stations to come under Adarsh Station Scheme, which will ensure basic facilities such as drinking water, adequate toilets, catering services and waiting rooms; WiFi at B-category stations.
• Surveillance cameras in suburban coaches for the safety of women passengers. More general class coaches will be added in select trains.
• A new department for keeping stations and trains clean under ‘Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat’ programme. This will include engaging professional agencies and training cleaning staff.
• New toilets to be built at 650 stations. Bio toilets are being fitted in coaches. So far, 17,388 toilets have been replaced with bio toilets and another 17,000 will be replaced this year.
• Online booking of disposable bed rolls.
• 24x7 helpline number 138 and a toll-free number 182 for security-related complaints.
• Developing a multilingual e-ticketing portal.
• Crediting of refunds through banks and unreserved tickets on smartphones.
• Proliferation of automatic ticket vending machines with smart cards and currency options. Integrated ticketing system on the lines of rail-cum-road tickets.
• A Defence Travel System developed for armed forces personnel.
• E-catering introduced in 108 trains to give passengers greater choice in selecting meals.
• Ordering food through IRCTC website at the time of booking of tickets. Integrating the best food chains into this project.
• Setting up of base kitchens in specified divisions. To be run by reputed agencies for serving quality food.
• More water-vending machines at all stations.
• Possibility of extending facility of SMS as a valid proof of travel for the passenger reservation system (PRS) tickets will be explored.
• A centrally managed Railway Display Network in over 2,000 stations in the next two years, besides SMS alerts to update passengers about arrival/departure time.
• Facility of self-operated lockers will be available at railway stations.
• National Institutes of Design (NID) asked to design user-friendly ladders for upper berths. More lower berths for senior citizens.
• Travelling ticket examiners (TTEs) to be instructed to help senior citizens, pregnant women and differently-abled people in obtaining lower berths.
• Middle bay of coaches to be reserved for women and senior citizens.
• Rs.120 crore allotted for lifts and escalators at stations.
• Newly manufactured coaches to be Braille-enabled for the visually impaired;
• Wider entrances for the differently-abled passengers.
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