Railway Budget 2015: 15 key takeaways for the common man


1. Better ticketing facilities: You can now book your tickets four months in advance, as against a period of two months currently. The window for reserved ticket booking will be raised to 120 days versus the 60 days now.


2. No rail fare hike: Prabhu spared passengers from any hike in fares. For 10 years before 2012-13 there was no increase in rail fares. Then Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi had made an across-the-board hike in 2012-2013 but was made to roll back the hike in second and sleeper class categories.


3.  Helpline: An all-India 24X7 helpline number, 138, will become functional to attend to the problems of passengers on a real time basis. Passengers will be able to call up for complaints while on trains.


4.  Catering: To provide freedom to passengers to select their meals from an array of choices including local cuisine, e-catering has been introduced in 108 trains on an experimental basis from January this year. Food can be ordered through the IRCTC website at the time of booking of tickets.


5. Mobile phone charging: Mobile phone charging facilities would be provided in general class coaches and the number of charging facilities would be increased in sleeper class coaches.


6. Improved stations: Wi-Fi at all A1 and A category stations is being provided. Further, as part of Digital India initiative, Wi-Fi will be provided at B category stations as well.


7. Clean trains and stations: Railways propose to create a new department for keeping stations and trains clean. Integrated cleaning will be taken up as a specialized activity, which will include engaging professional agencies and also training staff in the latest cleaning practices. 


8. Faster trains: “Average speed will increase. Trains will become more punctual,” Prabhu promised. The speed of 9 railway corridors will be increased from the existing 110 and 130 kmph to 160 and 200 kmph respectively so that inter-metro journeys like Delhi-Kolkotta and Delhi-Mumbai can be completed overnight. In the next five years, Railways’ priority will be to significantly improve capacity on the existing high-density networks. 


9. SMS alert: Railways propose to introduce an “SMS Alert” service to inform passengers in advance the updated arrival/departure time of trains at starting or destination stations. Similarly SMS alert would be sent 15/30 minutes in advance of arrival of the train at the destination. 


10. Surveillance: For the safety of women passengers, surveillance cameras will be provided on a pilot basis in selected mainline coaches and ladies’ compartments of suburban coaches without compromising on privacy. 


11. Comfort: Railways will launch a programme to improve design, quality and cleanliness of bed linen within the next six months. Additionally, the facility of online booking of disposable bedrolls at select stations is being extended to all passengers through the IRCTC portal on payment basis. 


12.  Use of technology: Hand-held terminals will now be provided to Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs), which can be used for verification of passengers and downloading charts 


13.  Capacity: More berths will be made available through increase in number of coaches to meet the growing demand for confirmed seats on the trains. Trains, which are fully patronised throughout the year, will be augmented with additional coaches from trains which have relatively lower occupancy levels.


14. Entertainment: Railways’ Delhi Division is taking up a project for introducing on-board entertainment on select Shatabdi trains on license fee basis. Depending on the response, the facility will be extended on all Shatabdi trains.


15. Train sets: With a view to providing superior riding experience and about 20% savings in journey time, Railways propose to introduce a ‘very modern train system’ called train sets. 


Source: Economic Times

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