The expectations from the 2015 Railway Budget are high, and so are the stakes. This could be another yardstick to measure the BJP government’s capability to initiate and implement reforms. All eyes will be on Suresh Prabhu, who will present his first ever budget as the Railway Minister of India on 26 February. There were a handful of reasons why rail budget of 2014 had struck the chord with the common man. Besides refraining from increasing fares, the budget had given due emphasis on high-speed trains and expanding the capacity of online boking of tickets.
What to Expect from 2015 Railway Budget?
- The government is likely to announce building of coaches that are capable of running at 200 km per hour. These coaches will be manufactured in India, in accordance with the ‘Make in India’ programme launched by PM Narendra Modi. As of now, the maximum speed that can be achieved by coaches is 160 km per hour.
- The 2015 Railway Budget is likely to propose AC rakes in trains that provide intercity services. The objective is to heighten the comfort quotient for the passengers. A prototypical rake is supposed to be made with 20 coaches that can run at speeds of 200 km per hour.
- The Railways Ministry is expected to play a major role in furthering the success of ‘Make in India’ initiative. In all probability, the ministry will announce its decision to manufacture locomotive parts such as cranks shaft, forged wheels and alternators in India instead of procuring them from abroad.
- Improving the financial health of the railways is high on the Union Minister’s agenda. Attention is also likely to be given on improving services offered to passengers. The ministry is likely to introduce Braille signages in all the new coaches so that the visually challenged passengers find it less cumbersome to locate coaches on their own.
- Satisfaction of the passengers will likely to be the focal point of 2015 Railway Budget. On this note, the ministry will propose to include AC facility in the DEMU or diesel electrical multiple unit trains.
- Prabhu will also propose reduction of noise levels in diesel locomotive cabs. As a part of the government’s plan to bring Northeast at par with other parts of the country, the railway ministry is likely to propose DEMU services in the northeastern states so that rail connectivity in the region can improve significantly.
- It is also expected that the new rail budget will enable the establishment of manufacturing facilities, which will be at par with the very best in the world. This year’s budget might also focus on areas such as extended use of automation and technology so that manpower can be reduced.
- The 2015-16 Railway Budget will also touch upon the need to improve the quality control systems in place at the railway workshops and factories. Of late, top-notch trains have been introduced with an aim of filling up the coffers of the railway ministry. For these trains, the ministry will try to give a facelift to the interiors of the coaches in order to provide the passengers with better travelling experience.
- The new measures on the anvil include redesigning toilets to make them better from the users’ perspective. The National Institute of Design is likely to be associated with this project.
- Presently, majority of non air-conditioned coaches do not have dustbins. The ministry is likely to extend onboard housekeeping services to 100 more trains and more bio-toilets will be installed at various stations and trains. All these proposals will be in accordance with the Swachh Bharat campaign initiated by Narendra Modi. The Clean Train Station Scheme will expand its ambit to cover six more stations.
It is only expected that the upcoming rail budget will take things forward. Although PM has stated that foreign entities will be involved in the process of revamping one of the largest PSUs in the country, nothing much has happened on this front. The upcoming railway budget is likely to create pathways to enable international agencies to collaborate with their Indian counterparts and improve things.