An hour-long budget presented by railway minister Sadananda Gowda in Lok Sabha on Tuesday offers a lot of hope to millions of passengers. For a change, the budget has been made keeping youth in mind. The entire focus of the budget was to advance railways into an online system. Interestingly, in his 27 page budget speech, he used the word “online” seven times. The thrust of the budget has been placed on passenger amenities, cleanliness and efficient station management. Now all major stations will have foot-over bridges, escalators, lifts, etc.
The railway minister announced Wifi in A1 and A category stations and in select trains. Gowda also announced paperless office of Indian Railways in next five years and digital reservation charts at stations. Setting up of Railway University for technical and non-technical study was also proposed. To keep cleanliness and hygienic food as top priority, Gowda has raised their budget allocation by 40 per cent.
In the budget, Gowda proposed to introduce mechanized laundry. Furthermore, to monitor cleanliness activities, CCTV cameras will be used. Onboard housekeeping staff and food courts were also part of his speech. He offered to initiate separate housekeeping wing at 50 major stations. Food court at major stations was also proposed. Moreover, pre-cooked ready-to-eat meals by reputed brands also got a place in his budget speech. With the help of NGOs and corporate, he also proposed to introduce RO drinking water at trains and stations.
He also suggests improving e-ticketing system. Gowda lined up a long list of innovative measures for railways. The key decisions in the list includes: Next Generation Ticket Reservation System, Real-time tracking of trains and rolling stock, Mobile based Wakeup Call System for passengers, Mobile based Destination Arrival Alert, Station Navigation Information System, Digital reservation charts at Stations, Extension of Computerized Parcel Management System, et al.