The much awaited Rail Budget 2015-16 is out for the people. Overall, it could be considered as a better rail budget by the BJP lead government at the center. While looking at the rail budget, you can exclaim that the new government looks more committed on providing the much talked about ‘Good Days’ (Achhe Din) to the common man of India, although in subjective format.
Four main Goals and Vision of the new Rail Budget 2015-16, as envisaged by the Railway Minister
- To bring a sustained improvement in overall customer experience
- To make Indian Railways a safer and secure means of travel
- To expand capacity and modernize infrastructure
- Make Indian Railways financially self-sustainable
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu brings to the Indian Railways 67 per cent more funds to ensure better amenities for the rail commuters in India. While we will ponder on detailed aspects of the budget later in this article, here are the key pointers from the Rail Budget 2015.
Major Thrust Area (Highlights) of the Rail Budget 2015-16
- There has been no increase in the passenger fares, which would certainly be a relief for the common citizen.
- An additional of 17,000 toilets would be installed in coaches in the form of bio-toilets.
- Considering the safety of the passengers, especially women passengers, a helpline would become operational that would work 24×7.
- The budget brings relief to the passengers travelling unreserved since they would get a 5 minute bracket to purchase a ticket.
- Promote e-ticketing to ensure a paperless environment
- Mobile application to be made available to cater to passenger’s complaints
- SMS alerts to ensure that passengers are updated about departure and arrival of the trains.
- Patients, senior citizens and disable citizens would be able to avail modern facilities through IRCTC.
- In certain selected trains, the coaches would increase to 24 or even 26 and more general coaches to be added to the trains.
- To have Wi-Fi internet facility in 400 odd stations
The Pros and Advantages of the new Rail Budget 2015-16
- The first and foremost: No increase in Railway Fares
- Newer technologies like mobile application, bio-toilets, Wi-Fi on stations, SMS alerts, 24×7 helpline
- After subsequent attempts in previous rail budgets, this one clearly intends to go paperless
- 5 minutes operation time would be some respite to the passengers travelling unreserved
- Train collision detection system to be used and made operational at selected routes
- Attempt to eliminate around 3,000 unmanned crossings across the country
- Installation of protection warning systems to prevent fire in rail coaches
- The speed of all the 9 corridors would be increased to 160-200 km/hr from 110-130 km/hr
- More than 6,000 km of the railway lines to be electrified as against only 462 km done in 2014-15
- Coaches to be made Braille enabled to convenience blind passengers
- Number of days for booking tickets to be increase to 120 days now
- The new e-ticketing system to be made multi-lingual
- Railways to use Nirbhaya Fund in order to increase safety for women and children in trains and station area
The Grey Areas or Cons or Disadvantages of the Rail Budget 2015-16
- It’s more of a subjective budget presentation with Railways minister Suresh Prabhu focusing more on better speech than deliverance
- There has been no clear cut road map for a majority of points mentioned in the new budget. The rail minister proposes newer ways of improving customer experience in Indian railways but misses on catering to bigger challenges like ‘A seat for all’ in the trains.
- Surprisingly, there have been no new trains in the list. This is something that people won’t be expecting from this rail budget.
- The new budget does not talk about changes in Tatkal Reservation policies, which was speculated and suggested by many.
- While the finance minister exerts that it is a common man’s rail budget, we are not sure how Indian Railways would deal with long queues of people wanting online or offline reservation
- While the fares have not increased in the new budget, it is noteworthy to mention that people were already not happy with the increase in the last budget and hence, the ministry could have brought some relief for atleast the lower class passengers.
Remarkable Points in the Rail Budget 2015-16
While there are pros and cons associated with every budget, what matters to the common man is how much they are benefited with the new policies and their implementations. Also, it is always great for the growth of the country if there are new things and newer technologies that are brought in the foray. Here are few fresh things that this rail budget intends to bring to us:
- Wi-Fi facility for 400 stations: while this is a great move by the central government in making public places like railway stations digitally connected, it is yet to be seen how and when this plan is implemented and what would come to common man by the end of it.
- Bio-Toilets: Hygiene is certainly a concern with Indian Railways, more so when it caters to one of the most densely populated countries of the world. While the new budget increases around 17,000 new toilets, all the new and existing ones would be made eco-friendly. This, if implemented well, can turn out to be a blessing for the passengers.
- Mobile Application for Complaints: This is a noble start and had to come some day with everything getting digital. However, the way complaints would be addressed will make all the difference to the user experience. Also, 24×7 helpline can turn out to be an enhancer in service area.
The FINAL TAKEAWAYS from Rail Budget 2015-16
The Rail Budget 2015 is both good and bad in many ways, most of what we have already discussed in the points above. The major thrust area of the budget has been enhancing customer experience and safety of passengers, which is aptly identified by the government.
What remains a challenge for the Railways Ministry is what they would do in order to eliminate the malpractices used in Reservation system that would make these services more affordable and accessible to the common man, whom the Rail Budget targets in its four point guiding principles.
No new train being announced is certainly a surprise and disappointment to many who believe that there is a huge gap between the passengers – seat ratio.
The rising gap between opportunities and deliverance has been a core issue as far as Indian Railways is concerned and more than the intent of the budget, what would matter to the common man and the nation is how these plans are delivered, implemented and scrutinized.
We certainly hope for a better passenger experience with Indian Railways!
New Trains and Fare Hike in The Rail Budget 2015-16
There has been no new trains announced and there has been no fare hike. It is first of the kind of a budget.
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