Commuters hope that the railway budget, to be presented in Parliament on Tuesday, will focus on improving amenities and infrastructure at railway stations to make travel easier and more comfortable for the approximately 75 lakh Mumbaiites who use services on the western and central lines every day.
Passenger associations on Sunday said they hope that railway minister PK Bansal, who will be presenting his first railway budget, will not hike fares anymore and will grant clearance to some key projects under the proposed Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project (MUTP-III).
“In the last one year, commuters have had to deal with fare hikes four times; the most recent one was last month. We hope there’s no fare hike again,” said Kailash Verma, general secretary of Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.
Associations also want the minister to allot more funds towards improving ticketing facilities. “A passenger should get a ticket within five minutes,” said Verma, adding that the city needs more ticket windows and vending machines.
Shailesh Goyal, member of National Railway Users Consultative Committees, said: “More than new trains and projects, commuters want safe, comfortable and fast journey.
"The budget should focus on providing passenger-friendly facilities such as clean toilets, cafeterias, waiting rooms and circulating areas.”
Associations also want the Mumbai suburban network to be separated from the Central Railway and Western Railway and different zone created for the city.
“The suburban system should be separated from rest of the railways and should have its own budget,” said Subhash Gupta, member of NRUCC. “The lack of coordination between CR and WR affects commuters. Once separate zone is created for suburban railway, these issues will get resolved.”
Expressing concern over delayed projects, commuters said sufficient allocations should be made for ongoing projects and projects improving connectivity to the distant suburbs should be focused on, considering the rapid expansion of in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
“We expect the railways to sanction new projects under MUTP-III and make provision for sufficient funds for ongoing projects,” said Gupta.