Rail Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal today presented his maiden Rail Budget.There has been no hike in passenger fares, but marginal hike in freight charges, reservation fee, cancellation fee, tatkal charges and supplementary charges. While refusing to increase passenger fares which had been hiked in January 2013 for the first time after 10 years, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal announced a marginal increase in freight charges, supplementary charge, superfast charge, reservation charge, cancellation charge and Tatkal charge.
The Railway Ministry will also put in place a “next-generation e-ticketing system”. In this system, up to 7,260 tickets can be issued per minute. The capacity of the present website is only 2,000 tickets per minute. Bansal also announced that Internet booking will be provided from 12.30 am to 11.30 pm now. In order to make the trains more technology- and user-friendly, Bansal said that free Wi-Fi facility would be provided in select trains. SMS alerts service will be rolled out in some time to intimate passengers about their reservation status. Bansal also said that the Railways would use Aadhar database for bookings and validation of passengers.
Speaking of the measures being undertaken to prevent accidents, Bansal said that anti-collision devices will be put to rigorous trials. He further spoke of eliminating 10,797 unmanned level crossing and added that no new unmanned level crossings will be set up. Speaking on measures on women’s safety, Bansal said that a helpline number will be introduced and Railway Protection Force (RPF) guards will be deployed in trains. He added that more women will be recruited to the RPF. He also said there will be ladies special trains in metros.
Bansal also announced special A/C coaches ‘Anubhuti’ will be introduced in select Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains to give “excellent ambience with commensurate fare”. With any eye to improving revenues, Bansal announced the ‘Azadi Express’ that will link all the places related to the freedom movement. The fares in the train will be concessional.
Bansal also said that the Railways will seek to fill 1.2 lakh vacancies in the network this year. Announcing one more milestone for Indian Railways Bansal added that the Indian Railways was set to enter the 1 billion tonne freight club of China, Russia and US.
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