Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal presented the Union Railway Budget for 2013-14 in Lok Sabha on 26 February 2013. Some of the major Initiative proposed in Railway Budget 2013-14 are as under:
• Indian Railways will introduce one coach in select trains which will provide an excellent ambience and latest modern facilities and services responding to the Increased Popularity of Shatabdi and Rajdhani Trains. Such coaches will be named Anubhuti with commensurate fare structures.
Amenities for Differently-abled Passengers
• To facilitate the boarding of trains and exit from the stations for the differently-abled and the elderly, there is a proposed provision of 179 escalators and 400 lifts at A- 1 and other major stations, affixing Braille stickers indicating the layout of coaches including toilets, provision of wheel chairs and battery operated vehicles at more stations and making coaches wheel-chair friendly.
• In order to provide an employment avenue to the disabled people, there is proposal to reserve a specified number of Jan Sadharan Ticket Booking Sewak (JTBS) for them, keeping in view the fact that the PCOs at stations have become largely redundant after the mobile revolution in India.
IT Initiatives for passenger benefits
• There will be now Use of Aadhar scheme by Indian Railways. The database generated, can be extensively and efficiently used by railways not only to render more user friendly services such as booking of tickets, validation of genuine passengers with GPS enabled handheld gadgets in trains, but also to provide a better interface with its employees in regard to their salaries, pension, allowances etc.
Some of the other measures proposed under IT Initiative of Railways are:
• Extending availability of the facility of internet ticketing from 0030 hours to 2330 hours
• Making e-ticketing possible through mobile phones as a follow up to overwhelming response to IR website and Integrated Train Enquiry Service under 139, a project of SMS Alerts to passengers providing updates on reservation status is being rolled out shortly.
• Covering larger number of trains under Real Time Information System (RTIS), whereby rail-users will be able to access information through nominated websites and mobile phones.
Some measures taken to curb malpractices in reserved tickets including Tatkal are:
• Mandatory carrying of ID cards by passengers with reserved tickets
• Rigorous drive leading to prosecution of more than 1800 touts in the current year
• In case of tatkal, reduction of advance reservation period to one day, issue of tickets only on production of ID proof at PRS counters, issue of only one tatkal ticket per train per day to web service agents;
• Denial of access to agents to internet booking between 0800 to 1000 hrs.
Other Major Initiatives
• A Centralised Catering Services Monitoring Cell with a Toll free number – 1800 111 321 has started functioning w.e.f. 18th January, 2013 to facilitate redressal of complaints/suggestions on real-time basis.
• For effective quality control, arrangements are being tied up with food testing laboratories in addition to third party audit. State-of the- art base kitchens are proposed to be set up in railway premises for better monitoring of quality of meals.
• ISO certification will now be insisted upon for all base-kitchens.
Green Energy Initiatives
Some of the new steps that have been taken or are proposed to be taken include:-
• Setting up of Railway Energy Management Company (REMC) to harness potential of solar and wind energy
• Setting up of 75 MW windmill plants and energizing 1000 level crossings with solar power
• Deployment of new generation energy efficient electric locomotives and electrical multiple units (EMUs) saving about 60 crore units in 2011-12. Railways have also won the National Energy Conservation Award
• Encourage more usage of agro-based and recycled paper and ban use of plastic in catering.