In what was termed a “mini rail budget”, railways minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday announced a policy on long-term tariff contracts with select freight customers and flagged off a pilot scheme on running “double stack dwarf containers”, besides enlisting commitments to provide for a “pleasurable” train travel through the launch of an integrated app for passenger ticketing.
The newly designed double-track dwarf containers are smaller in size compared to the conventional freight wagons, but can carry more load. The pilot run of the first dwarf container will take place on Friday on the Ambala-Jamnagar route.
While rail proposals were included in finance minister Arun Jaitley’s general budget speech this year, Prabhu released the transporter’s business plan for 2017-18 at a function at the National Rail Museum – enlisting timelines for the completion of various identified tasks such as plans to generate non-fare revenues.
The business plan reads like the rail budget speeches of the past, containing proposals under various heads such as initiatives to transform the ticketing business and scaling up new train products.
Prabhu’s presentation was even interspersed with quotes from his earlier budget speeches in Parliament, shown on big television screens placed at the venue.
As part of India’s commitment to provide for container services from Dhaka to Istanbul, a demonstration container train will be run between Bangladesh and India in the first quarter of 2017-18, he announced.
Prabhu also spoke of plans to move towards Aadhaar-based online ticketing system to prevent touts from blocking a bulk of tickets, end fraudulent bookings and curb cases of impersonation.
“Aadhaar number has been made mandatory for senior citizens to avail concession in train tickets from April 1. A three-month trial run for this is going on,” he said, adding that Railways would eventually move towards a cashless ticketing system by installing 6,000 point-of-sale machines and 1,000 automatic ticket vending machines across the country.
An integrated ticketing app will also be launched by May to promote cashless transaction, he announced.
The app, officials said, would also enable Railways to generate non-fare revenues through the scaling up of e-commerce activities.