Rail Budget: No fare hike, 3 new superfast trains in the offing

  • Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 25, 2016 14:23 IST

The Railway Budget for 2016-17spared passengers and goods movement from any increase in tariffs while it announced introduction of three new superfast trains and creation of dedicated north-south, east-west and east coast freight corridors by 2019. (AP)

The Railway Budget for 2016-17 spared passengers and goods movement from any increase in tariffs while it announced introduction of three new superfast trains and creation of dedicated north-south, east-west and east coast freight corridors by 2019.

Unlike last year when he tweaked freight rates, railway minister Suresh PrabhuPrabhu made no changes either in passenger fares or freight rates. The three new superfast trains announced by him include ‘Humsafar’ which will be a fully air-conditioned 3AC service with option of meals. ‘Tejas’ will showcase the future of train travel in India with speeds up to 130 km per hour with onboard services such as entertainment, local cuisine and wifi.

The two trains will ensure cost recovery through tariff and non-tariff measures while ‘Uday’ will be an overnight double-decker along with ‘Utkrishit’ double-decker air-conditioned yatri express on the busiest routes. For improving quality of travel for unreserved passenger, a superfast ‘Antyodya’ express service would be introduced. ‘Deen Dayalu’ unreserved coaches with portable water and higher number of mobile charging points would also be introduced.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Rail Budget will play a key role in the country’s This Rail Budget will play a key role in the country’s rejuvenation.

2: 00 pm: Here’s what rail passengers can expect from the speech

• Porters to not be called ‘coolies’ but ‘sahayaks’ now; will be trained in soft skills

• Overnight double-decker trains to be introduced on business travel routes

• Clean My Coach service to be made pan India,passengers will be able to request for cleaning of toilets in train through SMS

• Cleaning of coach on demand to be introduced; Disabled enabled toilet in 11 Class-A stations this year

• Will introduce Humsafar Express, fully air-conditioned 3rd AC service with an optional service for meals

• Will introduce Antyodaya Express, a long-distance, super fast train for common men to be operated on densely populated route

• Children’s menu, baby foods, baby boards to be made available for traveling mother

• Local cuisine of choice will be made available to passengers

• Facility would be provided so that passengers can request the cleaning of coaches through SMS

• WiFi services at 100 stations this year, 400 more stations over next two years

•2,500 water vending machines at railway stations

• Reserved middle bays in coaches for women security

• Introduced 1,780 automatic ticket vending machines, mobile apps, GoIndia smart cards for cashless purchase of UTS and PRS ticket

• 311 CCTV cameras installed

• World’s first Bio-vacuum toilet developed by Indian Railways is being used in Dibrugarh Rajdhani express.

• Will introduce latest drone technology to monitor progress of projects

• Tejas introduces, it is the future of train travel with operating speeds of 130 kph

12:30 pm Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu plans to increase speed of freight train to 40 km/hr & passenger train to 80km/hour. Here are the other highlights from his speech so far :

• Enhanced capacity of e-ticketing system from 2,000 tickets per minute to 7,200 per minute

Work in process for Wifi services at railway stations

• New train between Varanasi and Delhi with modernised coaches has been initiated

• To contribute to Swachh Bharat 17,000 bio toilets will be provided by the close of FY17

• Rs 8.5 lakh crore will be spent over 5 years for modernisation of railway infrastructure

• 1,600 km of electrification this year and 2,000 km in the next year have been proposed

• Railways to surpass ambitious target of commissioning 2,500 kms of broad gauge lines, almost 30% higher than last year

• Expect revenue growth of over 10% this year

• Broad guage Lumding-Silchar section in Assam opened, connecting Barak Valley with rest of the country

• By 2020, plans to eliminate all unmanned level crossing

• Over 1 lakh calls made everyday to get feedback from passengers.Turned social media into feedback mechanism

12: 00 pm: Prabhu wants to make railways people’s pride

Presenting the Railway Budget 2016, Minister Suresh Prabhu said it is not his budget but the aspirations of families in India.

Prabhu expects an operating ratio of 92% as against likely to be achieved in current year. The minister said he wants to give India a railway system that its people are proud of.

“Railways must provide to citizens a system free from capacity constraint,a system that is efficient,” he added.

Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu has reached the Parliament in New Delhi where he will present his second budget .

“People have high expectations from the Railway Budget this year,” Prabhu told reporters here while leaving for budget presentation in the parliament.

While railway finances are under major strain, the option to raise passenger and freight fares will not be easy for the minister, at a time when elections are coming up in four states and diesel prices are falling along with global crude oil rates.

There are indications that Prabhu will focus on the three mantras -- Nav arjan (new earnings), nai punya (new benchmarks) and nav sanrachna (new structures) – to infuse new life into the world’s seventh-largest employer with close to 1.54 million people.

11: 30 AM Rail stocks witnessed a mixed trend in an overall sluggish broader market ahead of the Rail Budget

Stone India went up 5.51 per cent and Titagarh Wagons gained 2.62 per cent on BSE. In contrast, shares of Hind Rectifiers plunged 6.22 percent and Kalindee Rail Nirman Engineers fell 4.59 percent while Kernex Microsystems was down 4.49 per cent and Texmaco Rail & Engineering 2.89 percent.

These stocks saw a bout of volatility before Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s budget presentation today. Meanwhile, in the broader market, the benchmark BSE Sensex was trading on a flat note, up 19.98 points, at 23,111.66 at 1100 hrs.

11:00 am Rail budget 2016 is for the aam aadmi, says Suresh Prabhu

With Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu all set to present his second Rail Budget in Parliament, Minister of State (MoS) for Railways Manoj Sinha, said it the budget would transform the Indian Railways.

”This year’s budget would transform the Indian Railways. We have prepared the budget considering the common man and common commuters requirements,” Sinha told ANI.

Meanwhile, Suresh Prabhu said the rail budget has been prepared keeping in view aspirations,needs and concerns of the aam aadmi.

10: 00 am Commuters expect new trains, better services

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is all set to present his second Rail Budget for 2016-17 in Parliament on Thursday.

People’s expectations are high about the announcement of new trains and improvement in passenger amenities, railway finances have come under tremendous strain as passenger fares was not hiked in the last budget and the minister faces a dilemma whether to raise fares and freight rates.

The railways have earned over Rs.136,079 crore as against the target of Rs. 141,416 crore during April-January, a decline of 3.77 percent.

Read more: Rail Budget: Suresh Prabhu to balance modernisation with financial cost

9: 00 am Rail budget prepared in interest of nation, says Prabhu

Talking to reporters after giving finishing touches to the budget on Wednesday, Prabhu said the Rail Budget will cater to the needs of all satisfactorily as a lot of effort has gone into its preparation.

“It has been prepared in the interest of the nation and the railways taking into considerations the ground reality consideration before finalising it,”he added.

8: 00 am Direct passenger fare hike unlikely

Prabhu, who is presenting his second budget, is saddled with the task of turning around the public sector behemoth reeling under a financial crisis.

Though a direct passenger fare hike is unlikely, Prabhu is expected to rationalise freight charges and introduce a “modernisation cess” on passenger tickets to mop up additional revenue.

Watch: What you can expect from Rail Budget 2016

Additional amenities for passengers including services for the handicapped and “carry home” bedrolls are likely to come attached with a price tag.

7: 00 am Prabhu expected to announce new trains for economically weaker commuters

Prabhu is expected to announce a slew of passenger services including a new train for economically weaker commuters – the Samarth Express – and the much talked-about National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) to implement Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet plan of running high-speed bullet trains.

Read more: Little room for hiking fares, freight tariffs in Rail Budget 2016

6: 00 am Budget likely to contain IT initiatives

The budget is also likely to contain IT initiatives aimed at providing free WiFi at select stations and on-board entertainment services such as gaming and online retailing options.

The railway minister is likely to elaborate on strategies to scale up operations through aggressive strategies to improve freight earnings -- such as introduction of high speed parcel trains and roll on-roll off container services. He also has plans to refurbish 400 railway stations in the country with private sector participation.

The Railways failed this year to meet the operating ratio target of 88.5% but it is likely to be fixed at 91.5% for the next fiscal, the sources said.

Project implementation either in PPP mode or as joint venture projects with state governments or PSUs – with an emphasis on port and coal connectivity projects - are likely to be among other highlights of the budget.

The minister will also refer to progress made towards setting up a tariff regulatory authority to decide on freight and passenger rates but a bill to implement it is unlikely to be moved during the ongoing budget session of Parliament.

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