India’s rail budget 2014: Focus on safety, security and cleanliness

GowdaUnveiling the maiden rail budget of the Narendra Modi government, India’s railways Minister Sadanand Gowda has identified cleanliness, safety and security as top priorities.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite adage about cleanliness being next to godliness, the minister has proposed to outsource cleaning activities to external agencies to address the endemic problem of dirt and squalor that pervades India’s rail stations and trains. Some of important initiatives include providing mechanized laundry for improving the cleanliness of bed linen provided to the passengers, increasing the number of bio toilets and provision of Reverse Osmosis (RO) drinking water on trains and stations. If you are mucking the trains and platforms, beware; the CCTVs will be keeping a close watch.

Addressing the issue of hygiene in food provided onboard the trains, the minister has proposed outsourcing the procurement of food to private vendors.  The ready-to-eat foods will be introduced in a phased manner. The quality of food will be under strict scrutiny by the passengers, who would be able to rate the service on an IVR machine. Strict action will be taken if the private vendors do not adhere to standard quality that will include immediate cancellation of their license. A pilot project to provide local cuisines to the passengers will be initiated on the Delhi- Amritsar and Delhi- Jammu Tawi route. The passengers can book their meal using mobile phones and laptop computers.rail-india1

On the safety front, the railway minister has proposed the use of ultrasonic detection system to track any irregularities with respect to broken lengths of train tracks. The public private partnership (PPP) model will be incorporated in the building lifts and foot over bridges. The automatic closing of doors on coaches before the departure of the train has been proposed in the interest of additional safety for passengers.

About 4000 women RPF constables will be additionally employed to address the concern of women’s safety in trains. Coaches meant for ladies will be escorted by them. Besides, 17000 RPF constables will be employed to provide added safety to passengers.

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