For improving quality of travel for the passengers, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday spared passengers fares and freight rates from any increase while he announced introduction of three new superfast trains and creation of dedicated north-south, east-west and east coast freight corridors by 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Rail Budget, which proposes no fare hike, caters to all sections of the society and showcases a vision to reorganise and rejuvenate the national transporter with the aim of providing trains with higher speed and safety.
From travel insurance to women-friendly steps, e-ticketing facilities and biofuel toilets, Suresh Prabhu announced number of measures to enhance customer experience.
1. No increase in rail fares and freights: The Railway Budget for 2016-17 spared passengers and goods movement from any increase. However, he promised rationalising of the tariff structure by undertaking a review to evolve competitive rates vis-a-vis other modes of transport and to expand the freight basket as a means of additional revenue mobilisation.
2. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said India Railways has plans to set up multi-purpose stall in stations, instead of present single purpose. He also Railways was “exploring the feasibility of providing an option to our customers for drinking tea in kulhad.”
3. For reserved passengers, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced the introduction of train services to be named Humsafar, Tejas and UDAY. Humsafar and Tejas will ensure cost recovery by way of tariff and non-tariff measures. Humsafar would be fully airconditioned third AC service with an optional service for meals.
4. For unreserved passengers, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced the introduction of Antyodaya Express, a long-distance, fully unreserved, superfast train service. These trains will be run for the common man dense routes.
5. The Railway Minister also announced the addition of 2-4 Deen Dayalu coaches in some long distance trains for unreserved travel to enhance our carrying capacity for the masses. These coaches will also have facility for potable drinking water and a higher number of mobile charging points.
6. Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu announced the introduction overnight double-decker, Utkrisht DoubleDecker Air-conditioned Yatri (UDAY) Express on the busiest routes, which has the potential to increase carrying capacity by almost 40% compared to present trains.
7. Suresh Prabhu propose to invite FM Radio stations for providing train-borne entertainment by installing PA systems in trains.
8. To minimise financial loss to passengers from untoward incidents, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said he is working with insurance companies to offer optional travel insurance for rail journeys at the time of booking
10. To mitigate the hardships that mothers undergo while travelling with their infants Railways will pilot availability of children’s menu items on trains. Further baby foods, hot milk and hot water would be made available on stations and changing boards for babies would be provided in train toilets.
11. With a view to enhancing passenger comfort, Indian Railways is planning to re-imagine the design and layout of coaches to ensure higher carrying capacity and provision of new amenities including automatic doors, bar-code readers, bio-vacuum toilets, water-level indicators, accessible dustbins, ergonomic seating, improved
aesthetics, vending machines, entertainment screens, LED lit boards for advertising, PA system and more. These new SMART (Specially Modified Aesthetic Refreshing Travel) coaches would cater to emerging needs of our customers and also ensure lower unit cost of operations due to higher carrying capacity.