New Delhi, Feb 25: Hailing the "futuristic and visionary" Railway Budget, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar today said it gives due importance to the poor and reflects Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of making India strong.
"It's a futuristic and visionary budget which reflects the Prime Minister's vision of making India very strong. The budget also makes the railways more important in the economy of India. "It is passenger-centric; facilities and security will be increased and, for the first time, the poorest of the poor have been given due importance," he said.
The Railway Budget 2016-17 today spared passengers and goods any increase in tariff while announcing the introduction of three new super-fast trains and creation of dedicated north-south, east-west and east coast freight corridors by 2019.
Presenting his second Budget in Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu promised to rationalise the tariff structure to evolve competitive rates vis-a-vis other modes of transportation and also expand the freight basket as a means of achieving additional revenue mobilisation.
Javadekar said those who are criticising the railway budget need to study the budget documents. "They (opposition) have lost the habit of studying the document and only listen to the speech.The speech is a direction to tell the nation how the railways will progress," he said.
Noting that the new Antodaya express, completely unreserved trains and Deen Dayalu coaches on all express and mail trains is an important aid for unreserved passengers, Javadekar said it is a "railway budget of reforms".
The minister said the new freight corridor is an important target. "Mumbai elevated railway is a new paradigm shift. People were demanding it for decades. The demand has been fulfilled in this budget," he said.
Unlike last year, when he had tweaked freight rates, Prabhu made no changes either in passenger fares or freight rates. The three new super-fast trains announced by him include 'Humsafar', a fully air-conditioned 3AC service with option of meals, and 'Tejas', which will showcase the future of train travel in India with speeds up to 130kmph with onboard services such as entertainment, local cuisine and wi-fi.