Breaking free from years of status quo, railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday piloted Rail Budget 2016-17 on the course of change with promises of a financial turnaround, raising the speed of trains, a qualitative improvement in passenger amenities and reforms in the Railway Board’s functioning.
Prabhu proposed a review of tariff structures to make them more competitive, time-tabled freight trains and special commodity trains, expanding the scope of goods transportation for most commodities and moving the entire bidding process towards procurement online.
Seeking to reverse the trend of declining share of freight trains in overall goods transport, Prabhu proposed a three-pronged approach—expanding the freight basket of Indian Railways, rationalising the tariff structure and building terminal capacity.
“These are challenging times,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said as he introduced his budget for the financial year 2016-2017. Prabhu announced a number of new initiatives be it in railway infrastructure, passenger amenities or measures to revive its finances by going digital.
What comes as a relief to commuters is that the Railway Minister has not announced a hike in passenger fares. He also announced several new trains with a focus on improving passenger facilities. Senior citizens have a reason to rejoice as Prabhu has announced that the quota reserved for that category will be increased by 50%.