“It sounds like a good one. Let’s just hope she keeps her word,” said Mohammad Khan (48), a porter at the New Delhi Railway Station.
Currently in the 30th year of his service, Khan was part of an eager crowd watching the live telecast of Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Budget 2010 announcement on the lone television set on platform number 1.
“I’ve seen more than half a dozen Railway Ministers come and go. Everyone has contributed to improving the railways in one way or another but not many have thought about issues closer to a commuter’s heart.”
He said most had concentrated on increasing the reach of the Indian Railway network and increasing the number of trains, soft infrastructure such as quality of food, dissemination of train information and security had been put on the backburner for very long.
“I think Mamata’s budget is a step in the right direction,” he said.
Agreed Jyotsana Bachkaniwala (58), a housewife from Surat, Gujarat. “Though fares have not been increased, middle class passengers like me would not have minded such a move in return of cleaner and comfortable waiting rooms, toilets,” she said. “More security on the trains would also be welcome.”
Others felt there was a need to address overcrowding. “Instead of burdening the existing tracks with more trains, why not increase the number of bogies on existing trains,” asked Bharat Tripathi (50), a businessman from Kanpur.