Mumbai: All eyes were glued to the television sets on Thursday afternoon as the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu presented his first railway budget for the year 2015-16. There was all-round relief felt when the Railway minister started his 1-hour presentation with a statement that he does not wish to propose any fare hike and no announcement of any new-trains and routes unlike the earlier years.
This is because, he said, that his main aim would be that the backlog of the pending proposals should be cleared first and “Railways belongs to the common man and so the common man should be equipped with all facilities.”
However, the main focus on his budget was on providing passenger amenities, ensuring safety of passengers, making Rail’s Swacch (Clean) by providing a new department for cleanliness, enhancing ‘Make in India’ campaign, using of solar energy, revamping of stations and adopting mid term goals.
What was in store for Mumbai in the rail budget?
The rail budget does not have any particular features for Mumbai as such, however the rail minister has announced that Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) 3 project will soon be started, AC trains for the suburban system is expected to start soon. AC coaches will be introduced in the Western Railway first and then in the Central Railway. The MUTP 3 project will cost Rs 52,000 crore out of which 50% will be given by Maharashtra Government and 50 % by the Central Government. Installing CCTV cameras in the suburban trains as well as few long distance trains is also on the anvil, there will be a pilot project run in the Western Railway.
The MUTP 3 project will focus on doubling the Panvel- Karjat route, providing a fast rail corridor on the harbour line, development of rail corridor between Panvel and Virar, controlling on tresspassing by creating boundries, the creating of boundries will cost Rs 400 crore and the areas where they will be constructed would include Thane-Kalva Vithava bridge, Bandra- Khar level crossing, Mahim- Matunga road, Vile Parle- Andheri, Jogeshwari- Goregaon, Ghatkopar- Vikroli, Nahur- Mulund, Mulund- Thane, Thane- Diva, Mumbra- Diva, Diva – Kopar, Wadala- GTP, Govandi- Mankhurd, Vashi- Sanpada. The budget also reveals that there will be an increase in frequency of trains in order to decongest the traffic and once the MUTP 3 project is compeletd 532 new trains would be introduced. 77 projects covering 9,400 km of doubling, tripling and quadrupling works along with electrification, covering almost all states, at a cost of Rs. 96,182 crore, which is over 2700% higher in terms of amount sanctioned.
Watchful eyes for women’s compartments
In order to provide safety to passengers, two new helplines have been launched, 1384 for passengers facing any problem even while commuting in the trains and 182 for women commuters where they can file their complaint directly. Introduction of CCTV cameras for better safety and transparency will be introduced in order to deter thefts.
Book your tickets four months in advance…
Better ticketing facilities will be started, wherein the window of reserve ticket booking has been increased to 120 days. For the differently-abled travellers, an initiative is being launched whereby they can purchase concessional e tickets after one-time registration on the irctc.com.
17,000 bio toilets will be fitted in the trains this year.
The rail minister has also assured that new toilets will be created in every station and also toilet facilities for women commuters will be provided more.
Now, charge you phones on the move…
Mobile phone charging facilities will be provided in general class coaches and the number of charging faciltites would be increased in sleeper class coaches. Wifi at all A1 and A category stations will be provided, and will also be made available to B category stations. This initiative is done as a part of Digital India initiative.
Central Railway General Manager reacts…
Sunil Kumar Sood, General Manager, Central Railway, said, “We welcome the budget, for providing CCTV cameras in the women compartment, there will be no invasion of anybody’s privacy and a pilot project will be run, I have spoken to the Mumbai metro department regarding the CCTV cameras and we will select the type of cameras we will be using in the compartments. The trail run for the AC trains will begin in October and the rakes would arrive in September.”