Railway Budget Has Travelled In Correct Direction

Attention Shifts from Railway Budget to Mamata Banerjee’s Antics

Attention Shifts from Railway Budget to Mamata Banerjee’s Antics
Attention Shifts from Railway Budget to Mamata Banerjee’s Antics | Source

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Passenger Revenue Set To Increase

Mamata Banerjee Is Always Temperamental

The Indian government’s Railway Budget has created a controversy. After many years, the Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi has increased the passenger fares across the board in his Railway Budget presented to the parliament. There has been no opposition to this move as the people and the political parties understand the need for it. But the Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has pounced on the Railway Budget and demanded a rollback of the increase in fares. She is also gunning for Trivedi’s blood by demanding his sacking by the government. I feel Mamata Banerjee is not against the increase in railway fares per se. She was angered by the fact that the Railway Minister Trivedi, who belongs to her party Trinamul Congress, did not consult her while framing the Railway Budget. In other words, this is a clash of the ego and not a clash of policy decisions. Mamata Banerjee is high temperamental and takes up flimsy issues to display her anger and frustration. She feels that she should be the centre of attention and attraction in all matters. When ignored, she goes to the flashpoint and displays her anger in an explosive manner.

Attention Shifts from Railway Budget to Mamata Banerjee’s Antics

The UPA government headed by the Congress Party is yielding to Mamata Banerjee’s threats this time also and has persuaded the Railway Minister Trivedi to submit his resignation instead of getting sacked. The Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has also stated that the Railway Budget is the House property now and cannot be withdrawn or changed without the consent of the parliament members. The entire controversy has shifted the attention of the people and the media from the salient points of the Railway Budget to this controversy involving Mamata Banerjee. This is not good for the democracy.

Passenger Revenue Set To Increase

According to the Railway Budget, passengers will have to pay more for their journey but the Railway Budget promises a safer ride. Railways are planning to borrow Rs.15000 crore from the market. Gross rail traffic is set to increase by Rs.28635 crore from Rs.132552 crore. In the next five years, Railways will abolish all unmanned level crossings which are the source of accidents. Minimum fare and platform tickets will hereafter cost Rs.5. 75 new Express trains and 21 new passenger trains are to be introduced. The Railway Budget has allocated an outlay of Rs.60000 crore for the year 2012-13 which is the highest ever allocation by the Railways. Passenger revenue is set to increase to Rs.36200 crore.

Railway Stations Will Become Airports

Indian Railways Station Development Corporation plans to redevelop important railway stations and maintain them like airports. The Railways plan to introduce double Decker container trains in future. Open discharge toilets in the train compartments will be replaced with green toilets. Within six months, cleanliness and hygiene in railway stations will be done. To ensure safe journey, an independent Railway Safety Authority will be set up as a statutory body.

You Can Book Your E-Meal through Mobile

Among the passenger amenities, Railways plans to introduce escalators in major railway stations. Wait-listed passengers will be provided with alternative accommodation. Coin/currency operated ticket vending machines, AC lounges and laundry services will be introduced. Regional cuisines will be introduced in rail travel. Passengers can book for an e-meal through SMS or email. For physically handicapped people, coaches designed for their convenience will be provided. Signalling will be improved over 19000 km. A rail connectivity between Agartala in Tripura to Akura in Bangladesh will be introduced.

Indian Railways Is Third Largest Network in the World

Indian Railways is the third largest in the world with a network spreading over 64000 km. Indian Railways operates 7000 freight trains and 12000 passenger trains every day. There are more than 7000 railway stations in India. These railway stations operate for twenty four hours a day. Even an advanced country like USA does not keep its railway stations open in the night. There are 23 million travellers and 2.65 million tonnes of goods taken care of by Indian Railways every day.

Commuters Want Safety and Do Not Grudge In Paying Increase in Fare

Commuters are not complaining about the marginal fare hike proposed by the Railway Budget. For travelling from Chennai city to New Delhi city, a passenger will have to pay Rs.636 instead of Rs.528 now in sleeper class. For AC-3 tier, the rate has been hiked from Rs.1429 to Rs.1646. For AC-2 tier, the rate has increased from Rs.1960 to Rs.2286. For AC-I Class, the fare has gone up from Rs.3322 to Rs.3972. Considering the increase in cost of living over the last ten years, this increase is bearable and cannot be criticised. Passengers do not mind paying the increase in fare. All that they want is safety in travel. If the Indian Railways can provide this, then it will be doing a yeomen service to the people.

Railways Cannot Be Allowed To Slide into another Air India

Indian Railways had not increased the fare for the last eight years because of politics. Had the fare been increased at least marginally every year, Railways would not have had the burden and compulsion to increase steeply this time. But in India, politics always overtakes economic reasoning. This time the Railway Minister has done a reasonable job and the Railway Budget cannot be criticised for economic reasons. But in politics, the leaders have to take a stand according to which side they belong to. Indian Railways cannot be allowed to drift to the level of Air India which is in sick bed now.

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