Keeping her promise, Railway Minister has presented a ‘pro-people’ budget which has a number of schemes for passengers besides not hiking ticket fare and freight charges. She has announced that that Railways will not be guided by economic viability, but by social commitment.
“I am also aware the economic recession has caused much economic burden on the poor section of the society also,” she said, presenting its budget for 2009/10. “That’s why I do not propose any increase in the passenger fares. Similarly I do not intend to increase the freight rates.”
She went on to add, “People expect to get better rail and train facilities. Development should not be restricted to only few people. People want better connectivity between stations in the nation. My priorities will include better passenger amenities, safety and security and provision of good quality food and drinking water.”
An expert committee would be constituted to advise the Railways on implementation of the so-called economically unviable but socially desired projects, the minister said.
Banerjee announced that 12 non-stop intercity air-conditioned trains will be introduced in 2009-10.
She also announced ‘Only Ladies’ EMU train services for working women who face difficulty in traveling to their work places.
Railways will sell tickets from 5,000 post offices and tatkal booking time will be reduced from 5 to 2 days.
For generation next, Banerjee introduced low-cost, air-conditioned ‘Yuva Trains’. The trains, with only sitting accommodation, will also benefit low-income groups.
Banerjee announced that Izzat scheme will be launched for unorganized sector workers- Rs 25 pass up to 100km journey
Banerjee also said that multi-function complexes will be set up in 50 station premises. “Fifty stations will be developed into world class facilities,” she said naming those at Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Varanasi Guwahati, Chennai, Mangalore, Porbundar and Kochi, among others.
Banerjee also said that doctors would be available on long-distance trains.
Special facilities will be provided at 375 stations and economic viability will not be the only index, said Mamata.
Rules for student concession will be relaxed and special concessions for media- concession would raised from 30% to 50%, said Mamata.
This is Mamata Banerjee’s first Rail Budget for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and third in her political career.