For the third successive year, the Railway Budget for 2011-12 spared the passengers of any increase in fares and proposed no hike in freight rates while introducing 56 new trains, including nine non-stop Duronto trains and three Shatabdis. TOI
As expected the budget is populist and centered towards Wast Bengal especially considering that the state will go to the polls soon.
- The lower age limit for female senior citizens will be reduced from 60 to 58.
- Concession for male senior citizens has been increased by 10% to 40%.
- Trolleys will be introduced at railway stations.
- The ‘Go India’ smart card ticket project will be launched this year for long distance travel by Indian railways. The all new concept is expected to benefit passengers traveling long distance by cutting down their time and cost of buying multiple ticket
- A new Super AC class in Indian railways, catering to the needs of corporate travelers.
- E-booking charges have been reduced by Rs 10 for AC and Rs 5 for non AC.
- Scholarship schemes for children of railway employees has been raised to Rs 1200.
- Banerjee also announced to induct 16000 ex-servicemen from March 2011.
- Mumbai suburban system’s EMU coaches to be increased from nine to 12.
WHAT IS MISSING?
- A guarantee to implement all the rail budget promises as half the proposals are only for public consumption.
- Service standards will suffer, as the railways will face shortage of funds and deficits as ticket prices have not been adjusted towards inflation.
- Trains will run late and hygiene and service standards will not improve much as accountability is still sorely missing.
- What is sorely missing is the interoperability/ integration of E ticketing with the booking counters . If u want to cancel a ticket u have to email the irctc and their service is pathetic and refunds can stretch to 6 months time while refunds are instant at the booking counters.
- Better rail service for the economic capital Mumbai where rail travel is inhuman and the load per coach is unbearably high.