NEW DELHI: The NDA’s maiden Rail Budget, to be presented on Tuesday, aims at a complete makeover and improving the health of the cash-strapped Indian Railways. Innovation, modernisation, efficiency, punctuality, cleanliness, increased role of private sector and services top Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda’ agenda.
Gowda,in a clear message to his officials, said the Budget should be about improving services, including modern amenities such as bullet trains, airports-standard stations, quality food, modern and clean coaches, safety, an effective grievance redressing mechanism, and technology-driven services like Wi-Fi in trains. After the bitter pill of 14.2 per cent increase in passenger fares last month, the Rail Budget would be more about presenting the Centre’s vision to improve the Railways.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of having a ‘Diamond Quadrilateral’ of high-speed trains is likely to get a space in the Budget, with even the possibility of Gowda announcing budgetary allocation for the country’s first dedicated high-speed corridor between Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad. After successful trials of semi-high-speed trains on Delhi-Agra route, the Budget could also touch upon extending the same to Delhi-Kanpur and Delhi-Chandigarh routes. “There has been a big thrust on bullet trains, and we have submitted feasibility studies and fund raising modes to achieve this goal in the coming years,” said a senior Ministry official, adding monetary crunch continues to remain a big problem.
Gowda is also toying with the idea of modern coaches with improved interiors and better colour scheme. He is likely to announce on a pilot basis the use of disposable linens in Rajdhanis.
Announcements such as intensive mechanised cleaning of coaches, pest and rodent control treatment, and clean train station schemes are also expected.