India unveils 5-year plan for modernisation of railways, no fare hike

prabhu_123_bigIndia’s Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has unveiled a multi-pronged plan for the transformation and modernisation of the Indian railways, the backbone of the nation’s economy.

“Over the next five years, the Railway has to go through a transformation,” Mr Prabbhu said. The chartered accountant-turned-politician underlined his key four goals as cleanliness, safety, modernization of infrastructure and making the railways financially self-sustainable. “We have to make Indian Railways a benchmark organisation in safety, security and infrastructure.”

“There will be no hike in railway passenger fares. We will focus on improving passenger amenities,” the minister said.

Here are some highlights of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s rail budget speech, the first rail budget presented by the BJP-led NDA government.

  • Railways plays a major role in India’s social and economic development
  • Railways is the heart of Indian economy
  • We will make Indian railways reliant, comfortable, safe and of global standard
  • Gandhi started his struggle for independence by travelling in third class of Indian railways. The third class does not exist in Indian Railways anymore
  • One of primary objectives is to increasing financial health of India
  • Good governance emerges out of participative governance – people’s involvement very high with railways
  • Railway has suffered from a vicious cycle of underinvestment for long time leading to deterioration

Key Announcements

No increase in passenger fares
In next 5 years, our aim is to increase existing capacity for high density networks
 17000 more toilets to be replaced by bio-toilets
All India 24-7 helpline number will become operational
Wi-fi to be available at 400 railway stations
SMS alert services for passengers to inform them about arrival and departure of trains.
Operation 5 minutes to ensure that a passenger travelling unreserved can purchase a ticket within 5 minutes.
 To introduce air-conditioned coaches for suburban trains
 Modern facilities for disabled citizens, senior citizens, patients through IRCTC
 67% more funds allotted for passenger amenities.
 In 400 stations wi-fi facility will be provided.
 By 2019, the proposed investment in Railways would be in tune of Rs 856021 crore.
 Advance reservation period increased to 120 days.
 Speed will be increased to 160-200 kms from 110-130 kms, so Delhi-Kolkata journey can now be done overnight
 6608 kms of track to be electrified
 Projects worth Rs. 96,182 crore to expand capacity of 9,420 km rail lines
 For safety of women, cameras will be provided in selected mainline coaches and ladies compartments.
 Toll free number 182 created for security related complaints
 Proposed the best operating ratio in nine years, of 88.5 per cent for 2015-16

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