Railway Budget 2016-17: No increase in passenger fares, freight rate

New Delhi (News24 Bureau): In a major relief for common man, Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday made no changes in passenger fares and goods movement fares.

Presenting the Railway Budget for fiscal year 2016-17 in the Lok Sabha, Prabhu introduced three new superfast trains besides creation of dedicated north-south, east-west and east coast freight corridors by 2019. 

He also promised rationalising of the tariff structure by undertaking a review to evolve competitive rates vis-a-vis other modes of transport and to expand the freight basket as a means of additional revenue mobilisation.        The three new superfast trains include 'Humsafar', which will be a fully air-conditioned 3AC service with option of meals. 'Tejas', believed to give a glimpse of the future of train travel in India, features speed up to 130 km per hour with onboard services such as entertainment, local cuisine and wi-fi.       The two trains are expected to ensure cost recovery through tariff and non-tariff measures.

Whereas, 'Uday' will be an overnight double-decker along with 'Utkrisht' double-decker air-conditioned yatri express on the busiest routes.

Below are the highlights from Prabhu's Railway Budget for 2016-17:

· 33% sub-quota for women under all reserved categories. 

· The cleaning of toilets by requests through SMS. 

· New policy of multi-purpose stalls at station to provide multiple services like milk and medicines. 

· Local cuisine of choice will be made available to passengers. 

· We are extending e-catering to all rail stations. 

· IRCTC will begin to manage catering service in phased manner. 

· We'll include e-ticket facility for foreign debit and credit card holders. 

· We'll open cancellation facility through 139 helpline number. 

· Journalists to get facility of e-booking of tickets on concessional passes. 

· IRCTC will make available local cuisine of choice, hygienic food. 

· LIC has agreed invest Rs. 1.5 lakh crore over 5 years on extremely favourable terms. 

· All new Railway stations to be built as per Accessible India guidelines. 

· We are planning to introduce bar-coded tickets on pilot basis to tackle menace of ticketless travel. 

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

· We have opened long awaited Broad Gauge Lumding-Silchar section in Assam, connecting Barak Valley with rest of country. 

· Long distance superfast train Antyodaya Express for unreserved passsengers. 

· Fully unreserved superfast trains to be introduced on dense traffic routes. 

· We intend to publish Rail Bandhu magazine in all regional languages. 

· Elevated rail corridors from Churchgate to Virar and CST to Panvel on the cards. 

· We'll install GPS-based digital display in coaches for showing upcoming stations. 

· We intend taking up on priority passenger amenities and beautification of stations. 

· We have also revamped our internal audit system with view to bringing in efficiency in working practices. 

· Coolies will be called ' Sahayaks '. 

· Children's menu, baby foods, baby boards to be made available for travelling mothers. 

· We're skilling of front-end staff employed through service providers. 

· We're planning to re-imagine design of coaches.

· We're working with insurance companies for optional insurance to passengers. 

· We've introduced Sarthi Seva in Konkan Railways for help to senior citizens; will expand this service. 

· We'll introduce Deen Dayal coaches for long distance trains for unreserved passengers. 

· A full-fledged Railway University soon. 

· A single accident or loss of a single life causes me great sorrow and anguish. 

· Safety record has become better. 20% less accidents this year than last year but a lot needs to be done. 

· CCTV network has been provided at 311 railway stations. 

· Walls of many stations have been converted to murals, also contributing to social awareness. 

· Railways to increase the quota of lower berths for women and senior citizens. 

· We will formulate a framework where net saving from electrification will be able to finance capital expenditure. 

· It is proposed to undertake bidding for redevelopment of few large and medium stations. 

· Enhanced capacity of e-ticketing system from 2000 tickets/min to 7,200/min. 

· Wi-Fi at 100 railway stations this year and 400 next year. 

· There is an increase in seat quota this year; 50% up for senior citizens. 

· We introduced 1,780 ticket-vending machines. 

· Swacch Bharat: 17,000 bio-toilets and additional toilets to be provided by end of this Fiscal Year. 

· 1,600 km of electrification this year and 2,000 km proposed for the next year. 

· More than 1 lakh telephone calls are made everyday to seek inputs from passengers. 

· The common people have always been the focus of all our initiatives. 

· We have received in-principle approval from 17 States to form joint ventures. Cabinet decision to allow JVs with States for rail projects opens new vistas for ownership in railway sector. 

· North-East India, especially Mizoram and Manipur, to be connected through broad gauge soon. 

· We will commission 2,800 km of new tracks in next year. 

With PTI inputs