The Modi government’s first rail budget aims to make train stations look like slick airports equipped with a host of modern facilities for the network’s 23 million daily passengers.
Bad train meals, dirty stations and filthy toilets will be a thing of the past with the railways planning to focus on cleanliness as it rolls out public-private partnerships to improve the overall travel experience, the budget said.
Maintenance at 50 major stations will be outsourced and closed-circuit cameras at stations will monitor cleaning activities by janitors. Gowda also promised sufficient water supply at all stations and reverse osmosis-treated drinking water systems.
Branded ready-to-eat meals will be introduced on trains and passengers will also be able to order food by SMS. “Catering on railways has been a major issue of concern for long,” Gowda said.
Vendors who serve poor food will be cast out. To ensure compliance, the railways will have its eateries inspected by certified agencies and mobile-phone-based feedback would be taken from passengers.
As part of the modernisation drive, workstation facilities called “office on wheels” for business travellers on select trains for a fee were also announced. Gowda also announced an upgrade of ticket bookings systems to enable processing of 7,000 tickets a minute, up from the current 2,000, allowing 120,000 users to simultaneously book online.