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Railways ministry today hiked the basic freight charges of grains, pulses and groundnut oil by nearly 6%, a move that will lead to increase in prices of food items.
Stressing the safety of women travelling on trains, railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal announces a slew of measures including raising of eight new companies of women Railway Protection Force.
Though the Railway Minister did not propose any increase in basic rail fares, the hike in reservation fees and supplementary charges will mean an increase of Rs. 5 to Rs. 25 in fares for all classes in superfast trains.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday described the rail budget as "disappointing" and alleged that while Congress ruled states were given sops other states including Bihar have been neglected.
Catering to increasing demand for higher travel comfort, the railways will introduce swanky new coaches offering excellent ambience, and latest modern facilities and services in select trains, railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said Tuesday.
The other highlights of rail budget 2013 include elimination of unmanned level crossings, sprucing up the Railway Protection Force for the safety of passengers especially women, deployment of a new anti-collision system.
Delhi's hopes for getting three executive lounges - on the lines of one that has been developed at the New Delhi station - were dashed on Tuesday.
Though the rail budget offers only Rs.
100 crore for stations in the Capital, the railway ministry has not completely shelved the concept of a world-class station in Delhi.
Though budgetary allocations have turned out to be "way below the expectations", passengers can look forward to improved amenities and better condition of stations in the Capital, a new terminal near the Delhi airport and a revamped rail museum.
Mobile e-ticketing, SMS alerts on train schedules, a new online ticketing system, free wifi, GPS-enabled passenger verification as Bansal turns away from Lalu's earthy solutions to technology to help passengers. Charu Sudan Kasturi
The proposal to link freight rates to any changes in diesel prices from April is likely to lead to a 5-6% hike in freight rates.
The Indian Railways, the world's fourth largest network, runs into significant yearly losses, which have risen sharply because fuel prices have been increasing, while fares haven't.
The proposed near 6% hike in freight rates for railways announced during the railway budget on Tuesday is likely to see a minor shift in freight from railways to trucks.
Even before railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal could finish reading his budget speech on Tuesday, opposition parties stormed to Lok Sabha well to protest the "discrimination" against some states in the budget.