The Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on 25 February 2016 presented the Railway Budget 2016-17 in the Lok Sabha. The theme of the Rail Budget was “Overcoming challenges – Reorganize, Restructure Rejuvenate Indian Railways: Chalo, Milkar Kuch Naya Karen”.
In this regard, Railway Budget 2016 – 17 unveiled certain initiatives and schemes ranging from cleanliness drive to development of infrastructure to improving the overall quality of life in train journeys with a plan size of 121000 crore rupees.
Major Schemes and Initiatives
Improving quality of travel
For the unreserved passenger – Two initiatives were under taken for this segment of passengers.
1) Antyodaya Express – These are unreserved and superfast service
2) Deen Dayalu Coaches – Unreserved coaches with potable water and higher number of mobile charging points
For the reserved passenger – Four initiatives were undertaken for this category of passengers
1) Humsafar - Fully air-conditioned third AC service with an optional service for meals
2) Tejas – They will showcase the future of train travel in India and operate at speeds of 130 kmph and above. They will also offer onboard services such as entertainment, local cuisine, Wi-Fi, etc. through one service provider for ensuring accountability and improved customer satisfaction.
3) Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri Express (UDAY) – These will be overnight double-decker express and will run on the busiest routes. This service has the potential to increase carrying capacity by almost 40 percent.
4) SMART (Specially Modified Aesthetic Refreshing Travel) Coaches – New coaches will be introduced with facilities such as automatic doors, bar-code readers, bio-vacuum toilets, water-level indicators, accessible dustbins, ergonomic seating, etc.
Undertaking Navarambh – A new beginning
The following initiatives were announced by the Minister in order to realize the Government’s vision of transforming the Indian Railways.
Navinikaran (Organisational Restructuring): It is proposed to reorganize the Railway Board along business lines and suitably empower Chairman, Railway Board. In this direction, cross functional directorates to be set up in Railway Board to focus on areas like non-fare revenues and speed enhancement and steps will be taken to strengthen PPP cell to improve ease of doing business.
Sashaktikaran – To improving planning practices a Railway Planning & Investment Organisation will be set up for drafting medium (5years) and long (10 years) term corporate plans
A National Rail Plan will also be prepared to harmonise and integrate the rail network with other modes of transport and create synergy for achieving seamless multi-modal transportation network across the country.
Aekikaran (Consolidation): A holding company of companies will be formed to manage the assets owned by IR.
Shodh aur vikas: A dedicated research and development organisation and a Special Railway Establishment for Strategic Technology & Holistic Advancement (SRESTHA) will be set up. While RDSO will focus only on day to day issues, SRESTHA would drive long term research.
Vishleshan (Analyzing data): A dedicated, cross functional team called Special Unit for Transportation Research and Analytics (SUTRA) would be set up for carrying out detailed analytics leading to optimized investment decisions and operations
Navrachna (Innovation): 50 crore rupees will be allotted for providing innovation grants to employees, startups and small businesses.
Avataran: Under this scheme seven missions were announced for the transformation of Railways.
Mission 25 Tonne: The objective is to make infrastructure suitable to carry 25-tonne axle load. It is proposed to introduce 10-20 percent freight loading through 25-tonne axle-load wagons in 2016-17 and 70 percent by 2020.
Mission Zero Accident: Two specific sub missions would form part of this overall mission.
1) Elimination of unmanned level crossings: 40 percent of our accidents and 68 percent of deaths on Indian Railways takes place at level crossings. The goal is to eliminate all unmanned level crossings on Broad Gauge by 2020.
2) Train Collision Aviodance System (TCAS): The goal is equip 100 percent of the high density network with TCAS by 2019.
Mission PACE (Procurement and Consumption Efficiency): A comprehensive review of procurement and consumption of HSD including arresting leakages will be will carried out with an objective to save 1500 crore rupees in 2016-17.
Mission Raftaar: It will be complementary to the Mission 25 tonne. It would target doubling average speeds of freight trains and increasing the average speed of superfast mail/express trains by 25 kmph by 2021.
Mission 100: The target is to commission at least 100 sidings by 2018.
Other two initiatives are Mission beyond book-keeping for accounting reforms and Mission Capacity Utilisation to prepare a blueprint for making use of the capacity created once DFC is commissioned.
Initiatives to improve customer interface- The following initiatives were announced to improve interface with customer.
• Skilling front-end staff and those employed through service providers
• Information boards in trains enumerating the on-board services
• GPS based digital displays inside coaches to provide real time information regarding upcoming halts
In addition, all A1 class stations will be manned with duly empowered Station Directors supported by cross functional teams; to make one person accountable for all facilities on trains.
Pilgrimage centres: Steps will be undertaken on priority basis to provide improved passenger amenities and beautification on important pilgrimage centres across the country. The identified centres are - Ajmer, Amritsar, Bihar Sharif, Chengannur, Dwarka, Gaya, Haridwar, Mathura, Nagapattinam, Nanded, Nasik, Pali, Parasnath, Puri, Tirupati, Vailankanni, Varanasi and Vasco.
Porters- They will be provided with new uniforms and will be trained in soft skills. They also will be called sahayak.
Entertainment: It is proposed to invite FM Radio stations for providing train borne entertainment and extend Rail Bandhu to all reserved classes of travelers and in all regional languages.
Initiatives to improve passenger Suburban traffic: To augment suburban railway system the following initiatives were announced.
• Early award of tenders for elevated suburban corridors between Churchgate-Virar and between CSTM-Panvel
• Reviving Ring Railway system in Delhi
• Launching a new investment framework for developing suburban systems in partnership with State Governments
• Development of suburban rail network in Ahmedabad, Bangaluru, Hyderabad Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram
Initiatives to building terminal capacity – In order build terminal capacity following initiatives were announced.
• Rail side logistics parks and warehousing facilities will be developed in PPP mode
• 10 goods sheds will be developed by TRANSLOC, the Transport Logistics Company of India, in 2016-17
• India’s first rail auto hub will be inaugurated in Chennai
• Development of cold storage facilities on vacant land near freight terminals will be developed with preferential usage for local farmers and fisherman
Rail Development Authority: It will be set up with the following mandate
• To enable fair pricing of services
• Promote competition
• Protect customer interests and determine efficiency standards
A draft bill will be prepared by the Ministry after holding extensive stakeholder consultations in this regard.
Sustainability and Social Initiatives: In order to fulfill its Corporate Social Responsibilities the following initiatives were announced.
• AYUSH systems of medicine will be introduced in 5 Railway hospitals
• Gang men will be provided with devices called Rakshak for intimating them about approaching trains
• To provide toilets and air-conditioning in cabs for our loco pilots
• To set up two chairs – one C T Venugopal chair on Strategic Finance, research and policy development and another Kalpana Chawla chair on geo-spatial technology
• 100 students across Engineering and MBA schools will be offered for 2-6 months internships each year in the Indian Railways
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