Bullet train picks speed, rest of rlys still slow

The year 2015 in the railways can be marked for giving a final shape to the bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Except for this speedy decision, the Indian Railways remained slow on its track. Though Union Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu expedited some passenger-friendly IT initiatives, the ministry could not provide much relief to passengers in terms of safe and smooth travelling.

Punctuality of trains and supply of better food and drinking water to passengers at affordable rates remains a distant dream despite the fact that the railways increased various charges on rail ticketing. The ministry increased cancellation and Tatkal charges, and also extended dynamic fares to more trains.

It goes to the credit of the ministry that it implemented some IT initiatives with some speed.

The initiatives launched this year include service portal for booking e-Tickets in Hindi, automatic fare refund system in case of cancellation of a train, mobile ticketing in Subrban Railway Networks of Chennai and Mumbai, and destination alert in Rajdhani and Duranto trains. 

The initiatives also include paperless unreserved ticketing through mobile phone between New Delhi – Palwal Section, currency coin-cum-card operated Automatic Ticket Vending Machines at New Delhi Railway Station, and Mobile Application for Freight Operations.

The year also saw the Railways going for  better research plans which will affect the functioning of railways in the long run. Prabhu took initiatives to collaborate with institutions of excellence like IITs for Railway Research. Despite the fact that the ministry decided to implement a majority of recommendations of Kakodkar Committee on Safety and repeatedly expressed its commitment to achieve the target of “zero accident”, the ministry could not manage to translate it.

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