New Delhi, Feb 25: The Railway Budget for 2016-17 on Thursday, Feb 25 spared passengers and goods movement from any increase in tariffs while it announced introduction of three new superfast trains and creation of dedicated north-south, east-west and east coast freight corridors by 2019.
Presenting his second Budget in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu promised rationalising of the tariff structure by undertaking a review to evolve competitive rates vis-a-vis other modes of transport and to expand the freight basket as a means of additional revenue mobilisation.
Unlike last year when he tweaked freight rates, Prabhu made no changes either in passenger fares or freight rates. The three new superfast trains announced by him include 'Humsafar' which will be a fully air-conditioned 3AC service with option of meals.
'Tejas' will showcase the future of train travel in India with speeds up to 130 km per hour with onboard services such as entertainment, local cuisine and wifi. The two trains will ensure cost recovery through tariff and non-tariff measures while 'Uday' will be an overnight double-decker along with 'Utkrishit' double-decker air-conditioned yatri express on the busiest routes.
For improving quality of travel for unreserved passenger, a superfast 'Antyodya' express service would be introduced. 'Deen Dayalu' unreserved coaches with portable water and higher number of mobile charging points would also be introduced.
He also announced setting up of a Rail Development Authority to enable fair pricing of services, promote competition, protect customer interest and determine efficiency standards.
The draft Bill in this regard will be ready after holding extensive stakeholder consultations. Outlining the Budget estimates for the coming year, the Minister put the plan size at Rs 1.21 lakh crore.
The focus will be on capital expenditure with a mix of various sources of funding in order to ensure the projects are given assured funding.