Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu proposed a spate of measures aimed at revamping the world's fourth-largest rail network. Improving customer experience and safe travel were high on the budget speech agenda. In sync with PM Modi’s Swacch Bharat, Swacch Rail campaign was announced with a guarantee of ‘highest standard of cleanliness’.
Here’s all that you need to know about the Railway Budget 2015-16:
1. No increase in passenger fares; No new trains introduced.
2. Tickets can now be booked 4 months in advance.
3. CCTV cameras in women’s coaches and railway stations to ensure women’s safety; Nirbhaya fund allocation to be used for making train travel safe.
4. Online booking of wheelchairs at stations for elderly, sick and differently-abled.
5. Making railways differently-abled friendly by introducing more escalators. A special initiative is being launched whereby they can purchase concessional e-tickets after one-time registration.
6. Open WiFi at 400 major stations across India.
7. Vacuum toilets to be introduced. 17000 bio-toilets to replace the existing ones.
8. 24x7 national helpline 138 for addressing passenger inquiries and problems; Mobile app for complaints.
9. Train protection warning system, train collision avoidance systems to be installed to prevent accidents.
10. Multilingual e-ticketing to be enabled.
11. ‘Operation Five Minutes’ to ensure that a passenger travelling unreserved can purchase a ticket within five minutes via modified ‘hot-buttons’, coin vending machines and ‘single destination teller’.
12. SMS alerts for train arrival and departure of train timings.
13. Increase mobile phone charging facility in sleeper and general coaches.
14. Train meal booking will now be made available on IRCTC.
15. Water vending machines to be made available. Solar power sourcing, water recycling plants to be set-up.
Indian Railways employs 1.4 million people, which is more than the entire population of Mauritius! And that is why the railway network needs a thorough revamping -- it affects the second largest population in the world.