Rail Budget 2016: Prabhu promises first rail auto hub; to boost Northeast connectivity



Presenting the third rail budget of the NDA government and second budget of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, India is gearing up to set up the first rail auto hub in Chennai. In a significant development Mr Prabhu announced enhanced connectivity in the Northeast with Mizoram and Manipur will be connected through broad gauge soon.

“A saving of Rs. 8,720 crore ($1.5 billion approximately) for Budget estimates of last year will be effected this year”, Mr Prabhu said. He also said that action has been initiated on 139 budget announcements made last year. The government has proposed to eliminate all unmanned level crossings by 2020 in the wake of increasing number of accidents and also a part of modernising the railways. The government has finalised bids for setting up 2 locomotive factories and new factories are to be set up with an order book of Rs. 40,000 crore.

The Northeast, which has been neglected in terms of rail connectivity, would welcome some of the initiatives announced by Mr Prabhu. Broad gauge connectivity between Lumding-Silchar section, connecting Barak Valley with the rest of India, is a significant development.

The government has also proposed 17000 biotoilets and additional toilets in 475 stations before the close of this financial year under the Swachh Bharat initiative. It was also decided to increase the quota for senior citizens and women travellers.

Modernising Railways through technology

The government has decided to enhance capacity of e-ticketing system from 2,000 tickets/min to 7,200/min. It supports 1.2 lakh concurrent users now, as opposed to 40,000 earlier. Mr Prabhu announced that there would be Wi-Fi at 100 stations this year and 400 stations by next year. There will also be 1,780 ticket vending machines available. The budget announced a provision for CCTV network of 311 railway stations. All major stations will be brought under CCTV surveillance in a phased manner. The government is also planning to introduce bar-coded tickets on a pilot basis to tackle menace of ticketless travel.

India will have its first full-fledged Railway University soon, Mr Prabhu announced.

Here are some of the highlights from the Rail budget:

  • No hike in railway fares.
  • The companies owned by Railways to come under a holding company.
  • India’s first rail auto hub to come up in Chennai.
  • Two dedicated freight corridors by 2019.
  • 50 crore for providing innovation grants to start-ups.
  • Cleaning of toilets by requests through SMS.
  • Extending e-catering to all rail stations.
  • Local cuisine of choice will be made available to passengers.
  • IRCTC will begin to manage catering service in phased manner.
  • Cancellation facility through 139 helpline number.
  • Journalists to get facility of e-booking of tickets on concessional passes.
  • Overnight double-decker trains to be introduced on business travel routes.
  • Fully unreserved superfast trains to be introduced on dense traffic routes.
  • A full-fledged Railway University soon.
  • Increase the quota of lower berths for women and senior citizens.
  • 1,600 km of electrification this year and 2,000 km proposed for the next year.
  • Commission 2,800 km of new tracks in next year.
  • New freight corridors announced: Delhi-Chennai, Kharagpur-Mumbai, Kharagpur-Vijayawada.
  • LIC has agreed invest Rs. 1.5 lakh crore over 5 years on extremely favourable terms.











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