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Indian Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu Presents Fiscal Year Budget Amid Political Challenges
Suresh Prabhu, railway minister of India, on Thursday, unveiled the rail budget for 2016-2017 in the Lok Sabha. The budget concentrated mainly on the accomplishment of the current projects rather than introducing fresh ones. The minister increased the quota for women and senior citizens in railway coaches. In addition, there was no hike in the passenger fares.
While commenting on the financial performance, the minister said that the sector anticipates operating ratio, comprising the effect of the 7th Pay Commission, to be 92% in 2016 - 2017. During the year 2008 -2009, ordinary working costs increased by 32.5% as a result of the 6th Pay Commission. The sector expects to limit the ordinary working costs growth by 11.6% in the fiscal year 2016- 2017.
The minister introduced a number of initiatives at his budget presentation. He introduced new trains like Tejas, Humsafar Express, Uday Express and Antyodaya Express. The minister said that the sector expects to produce revenues of 10%-20% from non-tariff sources in the following five years. The budget also promised wireless 'Rakshak' instruments to alert about the approaching train.
The sector also plans to embellish railway stations at pilgrimage centres like Tirupati, Amritsar, Ajmer, Dwarka, Mathura, Bihar Sharif, Varanasi, Gaya and Chengannur. The minister said that nearly 20,000 display monitors will be placed throughout 2000 railway stations to enable the better source of information for passengers, as reported by India Today.
The budget increased e-tickets booking to 7, 2000 a minute from 2,000. In addition, the ministry intends to place 1,780 instinctive selling machines in order to reduce the queues at railway stations. To ensure safety, the ministry will unveil tickets with Barcodes. In an effort to increase tourism, the Indian railways plan to accept overseas credit and debit cards for ticket reserving. The railway ministry has joined hands with Google to launch Wi-Fi broadband services in stations throughout the country. The railway sector aims to unveil this facility in 100 stations within 2016 end and by 400 railway stations in 2017, BGR said.
Another important aspect of this budget is that the Indian railways are launching a feature that enables passengers to demand toilets cleaning in the train coaches through SMS. The minister has vowed to set up FM Radios at every railway stations to entertain the passengers. People can avail their foods through the e-catering system in the trains. Domestic recipes including special food for babies can be ordered through this service.
The railways introduced Deen Dayalu coaches, where there will be plenty of charging points for mobile and water. Moreover, coolies will be named as Sahayak and will be provided training to behave politely with the passengers. The railways are also planning to allot Rs 50 crores for offering grants to workers and start-up firms to back up external and internal modernisation, according to The Times of India.
The railway minister presented this budget amid many political challenges and economic crises in the nation. Indian railway sector is attempting to reach its height by introducing many technical initiatives to attract passengers across the country.