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Rail commuters pin hopes on Lalu

Mumbai’s commuters are hoping that Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav’s fifth consecutive railway budget will make travelling more comfortable, reports Rajendra Aklekar.

india Updated: Feb 26, 2008 02:08 IST
Rajendra Aklekar

Mumbai’s commuters are hoping that Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav’s fifth consecutive railway budget will make travelling more comfortable.

The budget might sanction Phase II of the multi-crore Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), which promises to further upgrade railway infrastructure in the city.

If sanctioned, this would give the city additional trains over and above the promised 174 and new lines and thus reductions in the peak-hour crowd.

The budget is also likely to introduce techno-savvy facilities like SMS ticketing and hi-speed passenger corridors.

However, it remains to be seen whether Lalu will announce the second round of surcharge that is to be levied for the MUTP.

The railways are waiting to levy 8 per cent surcharge on the basic railway fare to pay off the World Bank loan.

The surcharge has to come sometime in the next few months. But senior railway officials felt that given the political scenario, Lalu’s budget would be full of gifts and he would not touch such an issue.

Of the last year’s promises, including Garib Raths from Kurla and Bandra, and new-age suburban trains, most have been fulfilled. Only a few like the air-conditioned suburban trains and multi-purpose smart card facility are yet to be implemented.