Bengaluru, Feb 26: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is set to present this year's Railway Budget on Thursday (February 25). What are the common people's expectations from the budget of the country's railways which runs one of the biggest networks in the world and carry millions of people daily.
While revenue generation is the top agenda of the government, from the common people's viewpoint there are some old issues that need to be addressed in this budget.
Here are they:
This is perhaps the biggest concern for both the railway authorities and the people who depend on the railways daily. While India is now planning to see the high-speed trains run on its soil, a big worry still persists over the safety of the existing infrastructure. Derailments, collisions due to signal mishaps, accidents at unmanned railway crossings or collapse of outdated infrastructure are challenges that the Indian Railways is yet to overcome permanently. Will this budget plug the loophole?
Passengers' security in trains is another pressing problem for the Indian Railways. Besides theft and robbery, women's security is a big concern for the country's most used public transportation but the performance of the security personnel is yet to win people's trust. It is believed that stringent rules should be in place to rein in the elements who pose threat to security in trains. Will this budget look into that aspect in a comprehensive way?
The state of toilets, cleanliness of compartments in which people travel for more than a day as well the stations or standard of food and water served on trains continue to disappoint the common man who expect better services in lieu of the money that they pay. The railways needs to put in place a vigilance mechanism to ensure that all its promises on cleanliness and hygiene both on board the train and off it are properly backed. Just rules and directions have not succeeded to put things on place. Will Prabhu make this a top point in his speech this time?
Corruption in the railways sector is something that haunts the common man. Businesses related to booking and confirming of tickets see middlemen and agents harassing the customers. True that things have improved much today, thanks to evolution of online practices in booking tickets but still there is a big room for improvement. Shouldn't the railways bring into practice a proper management system so that corrupt practices can be done away with even when demands are extremely high?
Delay in train timings is a part of the story that angers few people nowadays. The lack of discipline in running trains on time is more of a problem for the daily passengers and often headlines about angry protests against railway authorities, even leading to destruction of railway properties catch our eyes. Can't our trains really run on time? May be the pressure on routes is too much as a result of increase in train traffic. But is it impossible to find a way out of this problem? The railway minister must take up this issue tomorrow.
The Indian Railways, many think, have become too slow a transport in today's fast world. When air travelling has come within reach of the masses, prolonged train journeys are often seen as a waste of time. There is a lot of criticism of bullet trains but whether bullet trains or not, there is a big need to raise the average speed of Indian locomotives, which is perhaps far too much on the slower side. Even the average speed of high-speed trains in India are much much lesser than those in some countries with a big railway networks.