Passengers, fret not. Fare hikes are not the only thing that Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi announced in his Budget for 2012-13.
Since this is the first fare hike in ten years, passengers shouldn’t complain too much. In addition, if the other promises made in the Budget are actually kept, consumers might not mind paying modestly higher prices at all for travelling on a network that ferries 30 million passengers every day.
Trivedi made several promises to consumers in the Budget ranging from more hygienic food and clean trains to clear waiting rooms at stations and more facilities for dealing with physically disabled and elderly travellers.
Here is a list of key passenger amenities announced in the Budget today:
Installation of 321 escalators at important stations, of which 50 will be commissioned in 2012-13.
Twelve state-of-the-art mechanised laundries set up; six more to become functional during 2012-13.
Acceptance of text messages on passengers’ mobiles in case e-ticket as proof of valid ticket reservation.
Regional cuisine will be introduced at affordable rates. A book-a-meal scheme to provide multiple meal choices through text or email will also be launched.
Air-conditioned executive lounges will be opened at important stations.
Expansion of housekeeping schemes for trains.
‘Rail Bandhu’ — an on-board magazine — will be distributed on Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains.
Coin/currency-operated ticket vending machines to be introduced.
An Alternate Train Accommodation System (ATAS) will be launched to better accommodate waitlisted passengers on alternate trains.
A model rake with world-class interiors to be introduced.
About 929 stations will be revamped as world-class stations, including 84 stations in 2012-13. Trivedi said 490 stations have been been revamped so far.
Introduction of satellite based real time train information system (SIMRAN) to provide information to passengers through SMS, Internet, etc.
Passenger displays indicating the next station and expected arrival time to be introduced in trains.
Specially designed coaches for differently-abled persons to be provided in mail and express trains.
Engaging reputed professional agencies for pantry cars and base kitchens.
A specialised house-keeping body to be set up for maintaining cleanliness of stations and trains.