The railway budget is important as the railways are the backbone of the transportation system of our country. In the railway budget of 2016, Indian railway minister Suresh Prabhu has announced a large number of functional reforms in the budget. With a view on improving the basic infrastructure of the railways, the ministry has announced reforms that might not look very impressive on paper but have been long overdue and are necessary. The passengers also have a reason to smile as this budget saw no hikes on passenger fares.
Carrying over the Digital India initiative into the railways, 100 different stations have been equipped with free Wi-Fi for the use of passengers. New special unreserved coaches have been announced for trains that will have a supply of potable water along with numerous electric points for charging and similar applications. Called the Deen Dayal these coaches are designed to make unreserved travelling more easy and comfortable. Action has been initiated on 139 previously announced projects. These projects were announced in the last year’s budget. Designing new better coaches with beautiful and more comfortable interiors is an example.
The 2016 railway budget is go-getting. Plans have been announced to eliminate all unmanned train crossings by the end of the year 2020. These unmanned railway crossings are a big safety hazard and removing them seems like a great decision. 17000 bio and 475 conventional toilets will be built at railway stations all around the country keeping in with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swach Bharat initiative. The modernization of the e-ticketing system of the Indian Railways has been announced. The number of e-tickets that can be booked in a minute has increased from 2000 to 7200. Passengers now can request for cleaned toilets while on a running train. All they have to do is to send an SMS on a given number and on their request the toilets will be cleaned at the next railway station.
The budget also saw various attempts to modernize the railways. While providing free Wi-Fi at over 100 stations, the railway ministry also announced that all stations will be brought under CCTV surveillance in a phased manner. The quota for senior citizens have been increased and it will be easier for them to book a ticket any time, especially during peak seasons. Along with this 33% sub-quota for women has been announced under all reserved categories. Additionally passengers can also call on 139 to cancel their tickets instead of rushing to the window reservation counter or logging on to the official IRCTC website. These new announcements are surely going to make the Indian Railways a bit more user friendly and are going to bring about a big change in its earlier reputation.
The 2016 budget didn’t have any major new train announcements. The focus seems to be on improving the existing infrastructure and logistics of the Indian railways, which seems clearly outdated when compared to railway infrastructure of the other developed countries. The revamp of internal audit system, installation of GPS-based digital display in train coaches to show future railway stations, and establishment of multi-purpose stalls at railway stations are a part of the budget. The focus was also on catering facilities and the railway minister Suresh Prabhu announced that all the caterers around the country will be monitored and steps would be taken to improve the quality of food provided in running trains and at railway stations. In the railway budget 2016, special attention has been given in bringing the Swach Bharat initiative to the Indian railways by improving and modernizing cleaning solutions.