In the Rail Budget 2015, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu unveiled the thrust areas as the national carrier to become the prime mover of economy again, resource mobilisation for higher investments, decongestion of heavy routes and speeding up of trains, passenger amenities and safety.
Here are the 11 major thrust areas of the action plan on quality of life in train journeys:
1. Cleanliness: Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat, new department for cleanliness, integrated cleaning by engaging professional agencies and training our staff, ‘waste to energy’ conversion plants, new toilets covering 650 additional stations compared to 120 stations last year. (Bio-toilets)
2. Bed linen: NIFT to design; online booking of disposable bed rolls:
3. Help-line: 24X7 helpline number 138;toll-free number 182 for security related complaints.
4. Ticketing: operation five minutes for issuing unreserved tickets, hot buttons, coin vending machines, single destination teller, concessional e-tickets for differently abled travelers, developing a multi-lingual e-portal, crediting of refunds through banks, unreserved tickets on Smart phones, proliferation of automatic ticket vending machines with smart cards and currency options, integrated ticketing system on the lines of rail-cum-road tickets, Defence Travel System developed for elimination of Warrants .
5. Catering: e-catering to select meals from an array of choices. Ordering food through IRCTC website at the time of booking of tickets; integrating best food chains into this project; setting up of Base Kitchens in specified Divisions to be run by reputed agencies for serving quality food; expansion of water vending machines.
6. Leveraging technology: Hand-held terminals to Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs) for verification of passengers and downloading charts; possibility of extending facility of SMS on mobiles as a valid proof of travel for PRS tickets; integrated customer portal as a single interface to access different services; Introduction of a centrally managed Railway Display Network in over 2000 stations in next two years; “SMS Alert” service to inform passengers in advance of the updated arrival/departure time of trains at starting or destination stations.
7. Surveillance: surveillance cameras provided on a pilot basis in selected mainline coaches and ladies’ compartments of suburban coaches without intruding into privacy.
8. Entertainment: project for introducing on-board entertainment on select Shatabdi trains on license fee basis launched; Mobile phone charging facilities to be provided in general class coaches & increased in sleeper class coaches.
9. Station facilities: 200 more stations to come under Adarsh Station scheme; Wi – Fi to be provided at B category stations ; facility of self-operated lockers to be made available at stations; provision of concierge services through IRCTC at major stations; online booking of wheel chair on payment basis for senior citizens, patients and the differently-abled passengers through IRCTC on select stations.
10. Train capacity: capacity in identified trains be augmented to run with 26 coaches; more General class coaches be added in identified trains;
11. Comfortable travel: NID approached to design user friendly ladders for climbing upper berths; increasing quota of lower berths for senior citizens; TTEs be instructed to help senior citizens, pregnant women and differently-abled persons in obtaining lower berths; middle bay of coaches to be reserved for women and senior citizen; NID to develop ergonomically designed seats; introduction of train sets; Provision of Rs. 120 crore for Lifts and escalator which is 76% higher; newly manufactured coaches will be Braille enabled; building wider entrances for the ease of differently-abled passengers; allocation for passenger amenities up by 67% Y-O-Y. Corporate houses & MPs to be requested to invest in improving passenger amenities at Railway stations through CSR & MPLAD funds; Divisional Committees in each Railway to be chaired by Members of Parliament.