Mallikarjun Kharge to announce several new trains on Feb 12

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 12 2014, 15:40pm hrs
Mallikarjun KhargeThere will be announcement of new trains and some measures for providing better amenities at stations and trains. Reuters
Faced with revenue shortfall, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge is likely to refrain from announcing many populist measures in the interim budget on February 12.

However, there will be announcement of new trains and some measures for providing better amenities at stations and trains besides steps to strengthen safety for passengers.

Since Lok Sabha elections are round the corner, there are demands from many zones and MPs for new trains.

Kharge has conceded some demands and as a result survey of new lines, extension and increase of certain train service are also to be announced in the vote-on-account statement, sources said.

The vote-on-account is likely to mention the expeditious work on coaching complex for maintenance facility at Gulberga.

Kharge has expressed serious concern over falling revenue and categorically asked to undertake all possible steps to arrest the further fall in earnings in the recent General Managers meeting.

The minister is also likely to address the issue of increased number of fire incidents in trains in the recent past by rolling out plans for anti-fire measures in certain important trains.

Beside, he is expected to focus on more passenger-friendly measures like installation of upgraded real-time train information system at stations and operation of automatic ticket vending machines at many stations.

While the working expenses have gone up by about Rs 5,000 crore during April-December period, the revenue earnings have decreased by over Rs 3,000 crore.

Though Railways have set a target of reaching at 38 per cent of total cargo traffic in the 12th Plan, the cargo share of railways is expected to fall by two to three per cent this year.

There is also a fall in passenger bookings during April-December period which is a cause of worry for the national transporter.

Kharge, perceived to be a reformist, has taken many bold steps to increase the revenue like allowing fuel adjustment component in passenger and freight fares, increasing Duronto fares and revising Rajdhani catering charges.

He had also allowed dynamic fares in special trains to encash the increased demand of berths in Delhi-Mumbai sector as a pilot project.

All these steps had resulted in hike in passenger fares but the Congress strong man from Karnataka had taken in railway interest.