NEW DELHI: Amid major expectations of reforms, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday presented his first Rail Budget. Relieving the passengers of the fare hike, Prabhu stated that the goals of theRailways are to deliver better services and make it self-sustainable. The charted accountant turned politician said that he has outlined a plan to invest more than Rs. 8 lakh crore over next five years.

As the Railways Ministers began his speech for the Railway Budget, he informed that multi-national banks and pension funds have shown interest in Railways. Prabhu said that the railways will go through a transformation in the next five years as it is to increase track capacity by 10 % to 1.38 lakh km.

“Railways will play a big role in the socio-economic development of the country,” Suresh Prabhu said, adding that the Railways carry a big burden of expectations and the investment in railways will have a multiplier effect.

“Railways have to regain in share in freight traffic. Railways aim to deliver a sustainable improvement in customer experience and make rail a safer means of travel,” said the Railways Minister.

Here are the key highlights of what Railways is likely to get:

  • No increase in the passenger fare
  • For train timings, SMS alert will be introduced
  • E-catering introduced in 108 trains. One can now order on IRCTC website
  • Water vending machines to be expanded on more stations
  • Shatabdi trains likely to see more entertainment facilities on board. TVs to be installed.
  • General class coached to see more mobile charging stations.
  • To benefit the ‘common man’, more general class coaches will be added
  • All India 24×7 grievances helpline 138 to commence soon
  • 7,000 more toilets to be replaced by Bio-Toilets, New toilets at 650 stations, more vaccum toilets are likely to be fitted.
  • The unreserved passengers can produce a ticket in five minutes.
  • Instead of 60 days, tickets can now be booked 120 days in advance.
  • 67% more funds allotted to for passengers amenities.
  • The speed of the passenger trains will be increased to 160-200 km from 110 km across nine corridors.
  • Air conditioned coaches to be introduced for suburban trains.
  • 400 stations to be equipped with Wi-Fi
  • Develop 10 satellite stations this year.
  • Mobile applications being developed to address the complaints of the people.
  • Women safety to be ensured by installing CCTV cameras in select trains and suburban trains.
  • Online application for all recruitment process.
  • Private agencies to be engaged in the Rail cleanliness.
  • Increase in quota of lower berths for senior citizens.