In a month after the Union Budget 2017-18 announcement, which had the railways budget merged in it, the railway ministry has come out with a "mini-budget", Freight and Passenger Business Action Plan 2017-18. Announcing the plan, minister Suresh Prabhu made a slew of important announcements, which otherwise could have been part of the Rail Budget.
Here are the key announcements made on Thursday:
Ro-Ro service in NCR
The railways launched a roll-on roll-off (RO-RO) service from Gurugram to carry loaded trucks on the flat wagons to de-congest roads in the National Capital Region (NCR). RO-RO service aims to reduce carbon emission and congestion on the roads as about 66,000 diesel-guzzling trucks pass through Delhi and its adjoining areas in a day. The move is also expected to reduce road accidents and carbon footprint of transportation. The railways has the least footprint of all modes.
Double Decker trains to increase freight capacity
In the Railway Budget for 2016-17, Prabhu had announced that an action plan would be developed to expand the freight basket and recapture the traffic through new delivery models. This is announcement is in keeping with that. Double stack dwarf container train is an innovative method. This will increase the loadibility of containers from around 32 tonnes to 52 tonnes, due to double stack containers instead of the single stack containers. Which means, loadability per wagon will be increased by more than 55 percent by using this delivery mode.
Aadhaar-based new ticketing app
Ticketing will not be restricted to over the counter or online, to transform ticketing the Railways plans to migrating towards cashless, paperless ticketing via 6,000 PoS machines and 1,000 ticket vending machines in 2017-18. An Aadhaar-based ticketing will be launched by May 2017.
New imported coaches for comfortable journey
New coaches will be rolled out the next year. A total of around 2,300 will be added. These will come with more comfort features, as well as improved catering. The railways also plans to converting 25 stations to digipay mode in 2017-18 by digitizing entire station transactions.
More trains are being added
With the objective of scaling up, new train products will be added. For instance, seven new services of Antyodaya train will be added by June 2017. It’s a train for unreserved travel. Also seven new services of Humsafar trains will be added this year. Humsafar trains are special over-night trains.
Apart from this three new services of Tejas trains will be added by June 2017. These are semi high speed trains.
A new policy for rail tourism which will include development of hill railways through partnerships besides several new tourist friendly packages.
Partnership with India Post in parcel business
The railways will provide space to the postal department as well as private players to ferry their parcels in the guard's compartment of some selected trains. Handling and tracking will also be done via a new parcel tracking app.
New linen wash plant
A plant will be set up at Patna junction to ensure supply of washed bed sheets, pillow covers, blankets and hand towels to passengers travelling in air-conditioned coaches.
Integrated travel app
In May, the railways will launch an integrated mobile app for all travel-related services, including ticketing, hiring taxis like Ola and Uber as well as porters, in order to make journey hassle-free. This app will also provide with e-catering solution, help you check availability of retiring rooms, book tour packages, even order food from restaurants as well as find hotel rooms. As well as book tickets, booked, unbooked, seasonal and platform. - First Post