Expansion of passenger amenities has been a continuing feature in all the earlier budgets presented by Lalu Prasad. This time, however, the Railway Minister has provided a much wider range of facilities aimed at making train travel a more comfortable experience and wooing clientele from low cost airlines and road transport operators.
An effort has been made to ensure that the whole process of train travel — right from the stage of booking tickets to the experience on stations as well as onboard — not only becomes cheaper but also easier, less time-consuming and as hassle-free as possible.
As Lalu pointed out in his address to the Lok Sabha, a “multi-pronged strategy” is on the anvil to permanently terminate the long queues for buying tickets within the next two years. Thus, people would be able to purchase tickets on their computers sitting at home, through mobile phones, neighbourhood counters and automatic ticket vending machines at stations.
While a move is one to transform many stations at bigger cities into modern world-class stations with the latest facilities, an effort will now be made to also upgrade low and medium-height platforms in many smaller stations to high-level platforms for the convenience of women, children and old people, who find it difficult to board trains.
Foot overbridges, lifts and escalators at more stations are also planned for passenger convenience and smoother movement.
High quality colour display boards will feature online information about arrivals and departures of trains at stations as well as onboard.
A provision for discharge-free, eco-friendly toilets as well as modular toilets, stainless steel coaches and onboard cleaning are some other significant amenities that will go a long way in making the passengers’ travel experience more pleasant.
By introducing the popular Garib Raths, or poor man’s air-conditioned trains, Lalu had last year attempted to bring AC travel within the reach of more people. Ten more Garib Rath trains have now been introduced between different cities in several states. As many as 53 new trains have also been introduced while extending the services on 16 routes.