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Railways to involve private players in passenger amenities segment

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Jun 29 (UNI) Faced with a stiff competition from low cost, no-frills airlines, the Railway Ministry today said an array of passenger amenities, including spick and span stations, deluxe toilets, ATM kiosks, refurbished waiting rooms and dormitories and better catering, would soon become a reality.

However, all these faciities will come for a price as the private sector is going to be involved in a big way in providing passenger amenities.

Unfolding the initiatives here today, Railway Board Chairman J P Batra said the State Bank of India (SBI) would install ATMs at 686 stations, providing facilities for withdrwaing cash through credit and debit cards of that bank. ATMs of other banks had also been proposed, he said.

With regard to the Automatic Ticket Vending Machines, he said a provison had been made for 200 ATVMs for suburban systems on Western and Central Railway.

''Initial trials are being observed. This is to be commissioned by November. The scheme will be extended to suburban areas of Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi,'' he said, adding that a sum of Rs 9 crore had been set aside for this purpose.

There is a proposal that the ATVMs should eventually start providing daily, monthly, quarterly and seasonal railway tickets too.

Under the Jansadhanarn Ticket Booking Scheme (JTBS), unreserved tickets are being issued, and it is being implemented by the Northern Railway on a trial basis.

Budget Hotels had been proposed at 40 stations tenders for such hotels at Chandigarh, Madurai, Vijayawada and Secunderabad were under finalisation.

Describing the existing toilets in several trains and at platforms as ''an eyesore'', Mr Batra said deluxe toilets would be built at A-1, A and B category stations on the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model, and the Railways would not be required to make any investment.

The successful bidders will also be required to provide value added services such as selling of newspapers and magazines at printed rates, provisions of cloak room, automatic vending machines for hot and cold beverages and protable water and shoe shining machines.

''The service provider, who will be given the contract for 15 years, is free to charge for the services provided to passengers,'' he said.

Normal pay and use toiets are to be built or renovated on the PPP model by private players at A, B, C, D and E category of stations.

The charges will be Rs 2 for use of toilet and Rs 5 for bathing and toilet. Urinals will be provided free of cost.

The Railway Ministry has increased the amount for passenger amenities to Rs 353 crore in 2006-07 from Rs 273 crore in 2005-06.

Mr Batra also announced that telescopic benefits in fares, which were withdrawn in May, had been restored with effect from June 15.

UNI SKS ARB VV1850

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