72 new trains, no fare hike

72 new trains, no fare hike

Amid protests by anti-Telangana members, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday presented an interim rail budget in the Lok Sabha.

There were no passenger fare hikes or imposition of additional charges. However, it indicated that Railways was moving towards a dynamic fare system, expected to be introduced in 17 premier trains this year.

Constrained by a lack of resources, Kharge did not attempt any pre-poll extravaganza. He, however, managed to introduce 72 new trains, including 17 premium, 38 express, 10 passenger, four suburban and three diesel locomotive inter-city trains.

The premium trains would be called Jai Hind Expresses and fare would vary according to demand, area of travel and class. All important routes would have these AC trains.
He also announced some passenger-friendly initiatives like SMS to wait-listed passengers for PNR status once tickets get confirmed and upgrade facility for passengers of second class, AC chair car and executive chair car passengers. A train schedule information system would be introduced to facilitate dissemination of information about trains on a real-time basis, he said.

Kharge also announced surveys for a few lines on political considerations. He said: “On the basis of requests received from the honourable members, state governments and others, following surveys are proposed to be taken up in 2014-15.”

But, the senior Congress leader took the opportunity to enlist achievements of Railways during the UPA rule. “As the UPA II government completes its five-year journey in May this year, it is time to take stock of Indian Railways’ achievements and also lay the road map for the organisation,” Kharge said. Kharge said Rs 35,000 crore was spent for the North-East, while connectivity was provided to all strategic areas and borders.

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