The much awaited railway budget that directly focuses on Aam Aadmi of rural as well as urban India and is the main source of commuting in India ,is out today. Mr. Suresh Prabhu has put forward a different kind of a budget and has not declared any hopes of running new trains on any sector rather he has emphasized to improve upon the existing the services in bad shape, ease out of passenger traffic congestion, and modernization/high-tech implementation in the system which is appreciable decision. It is not unlike previous railway ministers who use to declare number of new trains for their constituencies ( for fetching of vote politics).
The honest spirit behind dedicated work for the entire railway has been given and enhancing passenger experience is the main motto of this budget. Prabhu increased the funds allotment for passenger amenities by 67%. He launched initiatives that will systematically address customer concerns about cleanliness, comfort, accessibility, service quality and speed of trains.
Certain key points, in my view as a customer of the IRCTC, that will improve customer satisfaction towards railways:-
1) Better ticketing facilities: You can now book your tickets four months in advance, as against a period of two months currently. The window for reserved ticket booking will be raised to 120 days versus the 60 days.
2) No rail fare hike: Prabhu spared passengers from any hike in fares
3) Helpline: An all-India 24X7 helpline number, 138, will become functional to attend to the problems of passengers on a real time basis. Passengers will be able to call up for complaints while on trains.
4) Catering: To provide freedom to passengers to select their meals from an array of choices including local cuisine, e-catering has been introduced in 108 trains on an experimental basis from January this year. Food can be ordered through the IRCTC website at the time of booking of tickets.
5) Improved stations: Wi-Fi at all A1 and A category stations is being provided. Further, as part of Digital India initiative, Wi-Fi will be provided at B category stations as well.
So far, 1052 stations have been identified for Upgradtion of passenger amenities at Station under Adarsh station scheme. 200 more stations will be brought under this scheme.
6) Faster trains: “Average speed will increase. Trains will become more punctual,Prabhu promised.
The speed of 9 railway corridors will be increased from the existing 110 and 130 kmph to 160 and 200 km/ph respectively so that inter-metro journeys like Delhi-Kolkata and Delhi-Mumbai can be completed overnight.
7) Capacity: More berths will be made available through increase in number of coaches to meet the growing demand for confirmed seats on the trains. Trains, which are fully patronized throughout the year, will be augmented with additional coaches from trains which have relatively lower occupancy levels.
Further, capacity in identified trains will be augmented to run with 26 coaches from the existing 24 coaches. More General class coaches will be added in identified trains
8) SMS alert and Surveillance: Railways propose to introduce an “SMS Alert” service to inform passengers in advance the updated arrival/departure time of trains at starting or destination stations.
Similarly SMS alert would be sent 15/30 minutes in advance of arrival of the train at the destination.
For the safety of women passengers, surveillance cameras will be provided on a pilot basis in selected mainline coaches and ladies’ compartments of suburban coaches without compromising on privacy.
a) Adopting a medium-term perspective:
Budget proposals to mark beginning of a Five Year Action Plan to transform the Railways.
b) Building Partnerships:
This will require partnering with key stakeholders: States, PSUs, partner with multilateral and bi-lateral organizations and other governments to gain access to long-term financing and technology from overseas, the private sector to improve last mile connectivity, expand fleet of rolling stock and modernize our station infrastructure.
c) Leveraging additional resources:
Indian Railways envisages investment of Rs. 8.5 lakh crore in next five years to be mobilized from multiple sources to cater to funding i.e multilateral development banks, pension funds.
d) Revamping management practices, systems, processes, and re-tooling of human resources:
e) To set standards for Governance and Transparency
( Author Ms. Tripti Lamba is a CS Executive Student and Currently pursuing training at a practicing firm, based in New Delhi. Her Area of interest is Corporate Law and She may contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)