Rail Budget has been announced and Didi (Mamata Banerjee) is in the limelight. In one line – This railway budget is a populist one and aimed at the common man. What is heartening to see is that Didi has made decent provisions for passenger amenities (like introducing trolleys at railway stations ) and also stressed on the safety aspects for Indian Railways by announcing commissioning of Anti-collision devices and doing away completely with unmanned crossings by next fiscal.
The big question for every Rail budget is whether the Ticket prices will be increased or not – And the answer is NO. And I am really surprised with that, I was expecting slight rise if train fares, especially because Railways for the first time in last 3-4 years has gone in red. Not only the fares are not increased, in some cases they are even decreased. Like, booking charges for A/C as well as non-A/C seats will be reduced by 50 per cent.
Additionally, number of new trains (56 trains, 9 Durontos, 3 Shatabdis and double decker AC trains) were announced as well.
Full Highlights of Rail Budget 2011
- No hike in passenger fare and freight rates.
- Highest ever Plan outlay of Rs. 57, 630 crore proposed for Railways.
- Rs. 9,583 crore provided for new lines.
- 1300 km new lines, 867 km doubling of lines and 1017 km gauge conversion targeted in 2011-12.
- 56 new Express Trains, 3 new Shatabdis and 9 Duronto trains to be introduced.
- New Super AC Class to be introduced.
- A new portal for e-ticketing to be launched shortly. Booking charges will be cheaper with a charge of only Rs. 10 for AC classes and Rs.5 for others.
- Pan-India multi-purpose smart card “Go India” to be introduced.
- 236 more stations to be upgraded as Adarsh Stations.
- 47 additional suburban services in Mumbai and 50 new suburban services proposed for Kolkata.
- Feasibility study to raise speed of passenger trains to 160-200 kmph to be undertaken.
- Anti Collision Devise (ACD) sanctioned to cover 8 zonal railways.
- GPS Based ‘Fog Safe’ Device to be deployed.
- All unmanned level crossing upto 3000 to be eliminated.
- All India Security Help line on a single number set up.
- All state capitals in the North-East except Sikkim to be connected by Rail in next seven years.
- Additional mechanized laundry units to be set up at Nagpur, Chandhigarh and Bhopal.
- 700 MW gas-based power plant to be set up at Thakurli in Maharashtra.
- 18,000 Wagons to be procured during 2011-12.
- Concession to physically handicapped persons to be extended on Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains.
- Concession of 50% to press correspondents with family increased to twice a year.
- Senior Citizens concession to be hiked from 30 % to 40 %.
- Medical facilities extended to dependent parents of the Railway employees.
- Scholarship for Girl child of Group-D railway employees increased to Rs.1200 per month.
- 20 additional hostels for children of railway employees to be set up.
- A separate sports cadre to be created.
- 2011-12 declared ‘Year of Green Energy’ for Railways.
- Freight loading of 993 MT and passenger growth of 6.4 % estimated for 2011-12.
- Gross Traffic Receipts at Rs.1,06,239 crore, exceeding one lakh crore mark for the first time estimated.
- Ordinary Working Expenses assessed at Rs. 73,650 crore.
All in all, I think the budget was a populist one and on expected lines. No real surprises.
What do you make of this Rail Budget ?