Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is likely to pursue his policy of not announcing any new train in the railway budget scheduled to be presented in February next year. According to sources, Prabhu wants to consolidate the existing infrastructure to improve efficiency and services. “The budget should be about financial allocations. New trains and stoppages should not be made a part of the budget. Of course, new trains would be announced as and when there is any requirement after taking into account the demand and financial viability,” a source said.
Prabhu, in his first budget presented this year, had not announced any new train.
The ministry has identified 11 thrust areas, including quality of life in journeys, station development, capacity augmentation, safety and technology upgradation. According to the source, Prabhu wants to ensure that the announcements made in the budget are actually implemented. Keeping that in mind, the ministry launched “E-Samiksha” for online monitoring of the last year’s budget announcement.
The sources said that instead of announcing new trains, there was need for capacity augmentation. To achieve this, the ministry is augmenting the train length and operating alternate trains and special trains during peak seasons, festivals and holidays. Five trains have been identified for augmentation of capacity from 24 to 26 coaches.
Meanwhile, the ministry has started the process to prepare the Rail Budget 2016-17. In a unique endeavour, it has invited suggestions from the people. These can be given online on the ministry’s website. The suggestions have been invited under 15 heads, including computerization, electrification of lines, finance, foot over-bridges, freight (traffic requirements sidings, rake handling facility) infrastructure, innovative ideas, station development and railway lines (new lines, gauge conversion, doubling). The last date of submission of suggestions is 15 January 2016. According to the source, a similar exercise was carried out before preparation of the 2015-16 budget. “We had received about 18,000 suggestions. This time, within 3-4 days, we have received over 6,000 suggestions. We are examining them. If found feasible, we would try to incorporate them into the budget. Our effort is to make the budget people-friendly,” he said.