Mar 6, 2017

Indian Railways 'Mini Budget': More Humsafar, Antyodaya trains; digitalisation, catering on focus

A month after India did away with separate Railway budget, Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday presented the first business-cum-action plan for Indian Railways for the current fiscal year.

The plan was to outline the department's priorities. However, it has been termed 'Mini Budget' because the road map for the railways was normally presented along with the railway Budget.
The central government this year decided to break the 92-year-old tradition of having a separate Rail Budget and merge it with the annual budget.

"Earlier, this used to be presented along with the Rail Budget. Though no one has asked for this, we are voluntarily presenting it," Prabhu said while presenting the action plan.

The plan includes 50 actionable initiatives, including the upgrade of delivery systems, introducing policy for long-term contracts with major freight customers, bringing in double stack dwarf containers and introducing the roll-on-roll-off (RORO) facility.

Under new action plan Indian Railways will focus on:
Aadhar-based ticketing: Transformation of ticketing by migrating towards cashless, paperless ticketing (6000 PoS machines and 1000 Ticket Vending Machines in 2017-18). It will also introduce Aadhaar-based ticketing and an integrated ticketing App by May 2017.
Catering: Providing comfort and a pleasurable journey experience by adding comfort features to coaches, improvement in Catering. Under new catering policy, food production and food distribution will be delinked. After the implementation of new action plan, food can be cooked anywhere like the state of the art kitchens of IRCTC in a hygienic manner using mechanized system. Food can be distributed using professionals from the hospitality industry.

 Indian Railways will convert 25 stations to Digipay mode in 2017-18 by digitizing entire station transactions.

New trains:
 Fulfilling travel needs by scaling up the new trains like Humsafar (7 new trains by 2017), Antyodaya ( 7 new trains by June 2017) and Tejas (3 new trains by June 2017). The new Hamsafar train will have GPS-based information system. It will also be with coffee/tea/soup vending machine, hot and refrigerated pantry.

Rail tourism:
 Meeting demands surges through adequate special trains and coaches. It will also introduce a new policy for rail tourism including development of Hill Railways through partnerships besides several new Tourist Friendly Packages. - businesstoday

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