Grand announcements — with special emphasis on West Bengal — can be expected from Mamataa Banerjee in her Rail Budget on Friday.
Grand because it will probably be her last budget in this tenure, as Banerjee hopes to be in the Bengal hot seat after Assembly elections in April.
On Thursday, giving final touches to her budget, Banerjee said it will be “passenger-friendly” and dedicated to the common man of the country.
Launching the unique concept of ‘tatkal trains’, the minister is expected to introduce a record number of 90 trains, including several Durantos. She is also likely to announce the change in frequency of an estimated 150 other trains.
‘Tatkal trains’ will be special trains that will be run at peak festive periods to cope with the rush of passenger traffic.
Banerjee, who wants leave on a high, is expected to announce plans to set up mega-kitchens in four metropolitan cities, including Kolkata, as part of a revamp of catering services.
She has been aspiring to present an enhanced plan outlay for 2011-12. With gross earnings likely to reach Rs96,000 cr this fiscal, the railways had proposed a plan outlay of Rs63,400 cr while seeking an additional assistance of Rs40,000 cr. Approximately, Rs16,000 cr of the additional assistance is proposed for safety works.
Banerjee’s speech is likely to be laced with other “pro-people” announcements. No hikes in passenger fares, plans to set up medical colleges on vacant railway land at five locations under the PPP mode. One of these will be at Kharagpur in Bengal; Lucknow, Secundrabad, Chennai and Guwahati will be the other locations, sources said.
New Durantos likely to be introduced will probably be on the Howrah-Chennai and Howrah-Guwahati routes
Frequency of existing Howrah-Delhi, Howrah-Jaswantpur (Bangalore) and Howrah-Mumbai Durantos is likely to be changed from the present tri-weekly to a daily schedule.
Setting up of a coach terminal at Majerhat Plans to set up a unit to manufacture green toilets at Haldia