Railway of India is the lifeline of the country and is invincible for economy’s growth. A carrier of people, freight and economy, railways offer an opportunity of travelling far and wide, all across the country. The committed 24x7 service of the trains here touches the life of Indians across all sorts of barriers. It connects people to places and binds India as a country.
Keeping all these facets in mind, the railways sector needs huge budget allocation, project management and monitoring for their yearly maintenance and sustenance. To fulfill this purpose, rail budgets are announced annually to revive the railway service, strengthen the connectivity and serve the passengers in a better way.
This year, the Rail Budget 2014 was announced by Hon’ble Minister of Railways, Government of India. Considering the massive size and nature of Indian railways, the hon’ble minister emphasized on boosting investments, cleanliness and safety in a bid to improve quality of travelling. As a part of infrastructure building, he proposed the inclusion of effective station management techniques including cleanliness and catering.
Under this scheme, he aims to build stations at par with the service standards appointed at the world class airports. He even suggested better amenities for the passengers. Provision of foot over bridges, escalators, lifts, etc will be installed in Public-Private Partnership (PPP route.)
There is something for the benefit of business travellers too. A lot of them use Indian railways and spend substantial time on travel. For such travellers, Office on Wheels is another ambitious project that aims to add best value to their time and gives them hold over workstations in select trains on payment basis. A pilot project will be launched by this year.
Travellers can also enjoy Wi-Fi Services in A1 and A category stations and in select trains. Real-time tracking of trains and rolling stock is also the part of this progressive budget.
The highlight of this budget was the announcement of many tourist-friendly train packages. Special interest tourism certainly has gained weightage and the ministry has acknowledged the fact with the launch of many special tourist trains. The areas covered include Northeastern States that will be connected with Eco Tourism, Religious Tourism and Education Tourism packages.
Bullet train is another ambitious project that is in the offing. This train will connect destinations with a world class speed in less time. The first bullet train was announced during rail budget 2014 which will run on Mumbai-Ahmedabad sector.
In addition to this, the existing trains will also witness the increase in speed ranging between 160-200 kmph in select 9 sectors. The identified sectors are Delhi-Agra, Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Kanpur, Nagpur-Bilaspur, Mysore-Bengaluru-Chennai, Mumbai-Goa, Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Chennai-Hyderabad and Nagpur-Secunderabad.
India is a land of pilgrimages. There are different pilgrimage sites in the country dedicated to different faiths. Indian Railways has now acknowledged this fact. Based on this, the ministry is planning to launch many special package tourist trains on identified pilgrim routes like Devi Circuit, Jyotirling Circuit, Jain Circuit, Christian Circuit, Muslim/Sufi Circuit, Sikh Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Famous Temple Circuit, etc.
The ministry is also launching a tourist train from Rameshwaram connecting cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Ayodhya, Varanasi and Haridwar. A special train will also connect the tourist places of Karnataka and Maharashtra as well.
Passengers’ safety is of paramount importance for Indian Railways. To strengthen safety, the railways will recruit 17000 RPF constables. Out of them, 4,000 will be women RPF constables. These special constables will be stationed to protect ladies travelling alone in each class of travel. With the induction of women RPF constables, coaches for ladies will be escorted. Additional care will be taken for ladies travelling alone in all classes.
With all such big announcements, the Rail Budget looks promising and will surely have a positive impact on India Rail Tours for both international and domestic travellers.