The Railway budget this year is likely to upset several states that have demanded funds for pending projects. Also, there is nothing much for the passengers in the 2015 Rail budget that will be tabled for discussion in Parliament on 26 February.
As the Railways reels under financial crunch, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu is likely to announce limited rail projects and less than 100 new trains will be launched this fiscal.
Last year's budget had 160 new trains, while usually, the Ministry launches about 150 to 180 new trains every fiscal year. Of the new trains that Prabhu will propose this budget session, a few are said to be tourist trains for popular destinations and some unreserved trains with general second-class coaches for the common man commuting on busy routes.
Though not a part of the budget, Prabhu is likely to announce new trains gradually throughout the year. "After weighing the pros and cons of a radical proposal of not announcing any new train in the Budget, it now seems that a revised proposal is being firmed up for going ahead with the announcement of a limited number of new trains," PTI quoted a sources as saying.
Advertisement to boost rail economy?
Not only has the Rail Ministry has decided to curtail this year's funding for rail projects, it has come up with a plan generate income through advertising for certain popular commercial products and brands in order to give provide a shot in the arm to the cash-strapped Railways.
That apart, there is also a proposal to name a few trains after big, money-spinning brands. Which means we could have a Coca Cola Express or a Haldiram Express in the near future.
Vacuum toilets on trains?
Apart from resource management, the Rail Ministry is likely to go for waste management by replacing conventional toilets with bio-toilets on trains and stations.
According to PTI's sources in the Rail Ministry, Prabhu will propose for environment-friendly vacuum toilets along with other changes in the design of existing lavatories in trains. Certain changes in the bio-toilets will also be made in order to address malfunctioning that occurred during trial runs.
The execution of the plans will happen after a trial in Delhi-Chandigarh Shatabdi Express which will be installed with 80 vacuum toilets.
No fare hikes, but no reduction as well
Though the Rail Ministry had earlier this month declared that the NDA government will not hike fares of the train tickets, they also ruled out the possibility of any changes otherwise. "It (fare reduction) will not be done. Fares are already low and government is giving subsidy," Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha had said in Bareilly on Wednesday.
Bill to give more power to RPF to control crime
The BJP government's first full year budget has no fancy offerings for the passengers, but the measures towards better security might come as a relief to commuters. In the wake of increasing crimes on trains and stations and in order to give more power to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) – the Railways own security wing – Prabhu will introduce a Bill to amend an existing law.
If the Parliament passes the proposal for amendment, RPF will be able to register FIRs in cases of crimes taking place under its jurisdiction.