Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today presented the budget for 2016-17 detailing the projects that he wishes to undertake in the next financial year. As expected, the minister has not announced a hike in either passenger or freight fares. The minister said the Railways, the largest public-sector employer in India, hopes to raise money through non-tariff means by monetizing assets.
The minister has proposed the introduction of new train services specifically aimed at people from lower-income backgrounds and to evolve new methods of revenue generation.
1. The UDAY Express – It is basically Utkrisht Double Decker Air Conditioned Yatri (UDAY) Express with an increased carrying capacity of almost 40%.
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2. The TEJAS Express – Possibly hinting at semi-high speed trains, the minister said Tejas will be the ‘future of train travel in India’ with operating speeds of 130 kmph and services which would be world-class. It will offer onboard services such as entertainment, local cuisine and wi-fi through service providers, while ensuring accountability and improved customer satisfaction.
3. The Humsafar Express – The Minister said this will be a fully air-conditioned third AC express with an optional service for meals.
4. The Antyodaya Express – Aimed at people from low-income backgrounds, the Railways proposes to introduce the Antyodaya Express that will be a long-distance, fully unreserved superfast train that will operate on dense routes.
Additionally, the minister said 2-4 Deen Dayalu coaches in long-distance trains with unreserved coaches with facility for drinking water and mobile charging points.
“Every customer is our brand ambassador, the very reason of our existence. Therefore, each time that he or she travels, the satisfaction quotient must go up”, Prabhu said at the outset before announcing the services.
He also said government would continue to provide better passenger services making railway journey enjoyable and strive hard to ensure satisfaction of each of 7 billion passengers that ride Indian Railways network annually.
(With PTI inputs)