Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Indian Railway Budget 2014-15 - Highlights

The Railway Minister Mr. Sadananda Gowda has just presented the Railway Budget in our Parliament. The purpose of this article is to give you an overview of the Key Highlights of this Railway Budget...

Before We Start:

The Idea of this article is not to Review the Indian Railway Budget from a Political perspective.The purpose of this article is just to give you an overview of the key highlights of this Railway Budget. This is not a Politically Motivated Review of the Budget. I am just a blogger and my take on this budget is just my personal view. You are free to disagree with me :-) but please be civil in the comments section.

About the Indian Railways

The Indian Railways is one of the worlds largest in all aspects. No matter which aspect you compare our railways against the other nations - like No. of people using it, or No, of trains operated or No, of Employees etc - We will definitely be in the Top 3 or 4 Nations. Anyways, below are some key statistics about our Indian Railways before we get into the highlights of our new Railway Budget

  • The Railways is facing a sever cash crunch. Thousands of crores required to complete (Approx. 27000 crores) In-Progress Projects
  • Earnings for the last financial year 2013-14 was Rs. 12,35,558 Crores 
  • 94% of the Income went into meeting Operational Expenses and only the rest is available as Investible Surplus for the Railways to Modernize or Improve its Services
  • 19,000 Trains Operated Daily - 12,000 for Passenger Service and 7,000 for Freight & Cargo
  • 25 Million Passengers on an Average utilize Railway Services Daily
  • 1 Million Tonnes worth of Cargo gets moved every day 

Improvements Proposed as part of the Budget

The following are some of the Improvements that are planned to be taken up to improve the Railway Services available to the Citizens of our country. 
  • Battery Operated Vehicles to help senior citizens move around in railway stations
  • Outsourcing of cleaning services to enhance cleanliness of stations and trains. Plus CCTV services to be used to monitor the cleaning services
  • Availability of RO Drinking Water in Stations and Trains
  • Steps to be taken to improve the quality of food being served to Passengers including strict punishments (cancellation of their contracts) for vendors serving low-quality or unhygienic food
  • Ticket booking services to be available through post office and mobile phone 
  • 17000 new RPF Personnel and 4000 additional women RPF personnel to be added to enhance security
  • Rs. 1780 crores allotted to eliminate Unmanned level crossings - Across India
  • Introduction of Wi-Fi services in A category stations (All Major Cities and Towns qualify as A Category)
  • New Railway projects and worth over 20,000 crores to be implemented in Andhra and Telengana
  • 27 New Express Trains to be introduced on routes across India
  • New High Speed Bullet Trains proposed on the Golden Quadrilateral lines
  • Special Trains for Pilgrims from major cities to Major Pilgrimage Sites across India
  • Special Milk Tanker Trains to be Introduced
  • 23 new Projects proposed for North East India
  • Improve e-ticketing services to enable more people to book tickets online. The upgraded e-ticketing website will be able to handle a load of 1.2 lakh concurrent users. 
  • Waiting rooms to be constructed in all stations to help passengers (along with online booking of those rooms)
  • All Railway Stations to have good quality Food Courts 
  • Construction of Toilets and Implementation of Escalators in all stations to help passengers

Motivating Factors Behind the Rail Fare Hike

Based on Data Gathered from the Internet below are the two key reasons why the Fares were Hiked recently:
  1. A Increasing % of passengers are travelling without tickets and Authorities who are supposed to enforce the ticketing rules are indulging in bribery and allow those passengers to get away with the same. 
  2. People are misusing the discount available for cargo being moved for Consumption within India for Items being moved for Export. The Government Offered Discount is not available for Export Goods but as with any service, our people are misrepresenting facts and getting the discount for export products. The losses from this problem alone amounts to lakhs of crores - Each Year. 
On top of these two reasons, the Government Offers heavy subsidies to its citizens on Rail fares. Subsidies offered to Railways is one of the biggest parts of the country's Financial budget. One of the reasons why the Railways is facing sever cash crunch is due the same. According to Data provided by the Railway Ministry, the Indian Railways is losing 23 paise per passenger on a daily basis. 

My Take on the Budget

For as long as I can remember, the Quality of services offered by Indian Railways (Including 1st class or AC coaches) is nothing in comparison to the services that are available in foreign countries. Not just the cleanliness of the Trains and Stations but also in terms of the quality of seats, comfort of travel, safety and security etc. The Topic of a Railway Fare Hike is a "Hot Political Topic". In fact,  Almost all opposition parties are already complaining about the fact that the fare raise was unnecessary or that their particular state/territory hasn't got enough trains or that introducing or operating superfast trains isnt a good idea etc. Nobody is worried about the improvement in Quality of Services that are being proposed. 

Anyways, Personally I feel that the Majority of the Passengers (Including Me) will be more than happy to shell out a couple of hundred rupees on their tickets if the quality of Service will be Improved. I would rather pay Rs. 500/- for a safe and comfortable journey than pay Rs. 300/- or Rs. 350/- for a journey that requires me to adjust with ticketless travelers, undergo physical strain due to uncomfortable seats and not to mention the poor quality food or unhygienic toilets.

Though the fares we pay are much lower than most countries in the world, our passengers are still unhappy. I guess, even if we offer free tickets to people, they will probably complain that the government isnt giving them free lunch or dinner. It is high-time we do away with freebies and votebank politics and move towards providing world class services that we can be proud of. 

1 comment:

  1. Really focus of this budget is improving the Railway services instead of highlighting of giving free passes, and not hiking the fares. Even if 50% of what is proposed gets implemented I will start traveling by railway on long distances trains. I dread to travel from Chennai to Delhi on trains taking 2 nights (GT and TN) even in 2AC or 3AC because the food is bad, toilets don't have proper water after the first night, the bed-sheets and blankets are wet and stink


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