Railway Budget 2016 – Eleven cheers for common man
NEW DELHI: Stating that every customer is Railways’ brand ambassador, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in his Rail Budget speech stressed that each time a traveller undertakes a journey the “satisfaction quotient must go up.”
From no fare hike to smart coaches and ticketing facilities for unreserved travel, Prabhu announced a slew of measures aimed at enhancing customer experience. We take a look eleven such measures that will bring cheer to the common man:
1) For the unreserved passenger: Antyodaya Express and Deen Dayalu coaches – “We propose to introduce the Antyodaya Express, a long-distance, fully unreserved, superfast train service, for the common man to be operated on dense routes,” Prabhu said.
“We will also add two to four Deen Dayalu coaches in some long distance trains for unreserved travel to enhance our carrying capacity for the masses. These coaches will also have facility for potable drinking water and a higher number of mobile charging points,” he added.
2) For the reserved passenger – Humsafar, Tejas and UDAY: Three select train services, Humsafar, Tejas and UDAY were announced. “Humsafar and Tejas will ensure cost recovery by way of tariff and non-tariff measures. Humsafar would be fully airconditioned third AC service with an optional service for meals,” Prabhu said.
“Tejas, on the other hand will showcase the future of train travel in India. Operating at speeds of 130 kmph and above, it will offer onboard services such as entertainment, local cuisine, Wi-Fi, etc. through one service provider for ensuring accountability and improved customer satisfaction,” he announced.
Prabhu also said that Railways will introduce overnight double-decker, Utkrisht DoubleDecker Air-conditioned Yatri (UDAY) Express on the busiest routes, which he claimed has the potential to increase carrying capacity by almost 40%.
3) No fare hike: Railway Budget spared passengers and goods movement from any increase in tariffs. Prabhu promised rationalising of the tariff structure.
4) SMART Coaches: Railways is planning to re-imagine the design and layout of coaches to ensure higher carrying capacity and provision of new amenities including automatic doors, bar-code readers, bio-vacuum toilets, water-level indicators, accessible dustbins, ergonomic seating, improved aesthetics, vending machines, entertainment screens, LED lit boards for advertising, PA system and more.
“These new SMART (Specially Modified Aesthetic Refreshing Travel) coaches would cater to emerging needs of our customers and also ensure lower unit cost of operations due to higher carrying capacity,” Prabhu said.
5) Ticketing facilities: Railways intend to commence sale of tickets through hand held terminals for the benefit of the suburban and short distance travellers. “This would enable us to deploy multiple ‘Points of Sale’ with minimal infrastructure requirement. We also intend initiating sale of platform tickets through ticket vending machines which would be made compatible with not only cash but also credit/debit cards,” he said.
Also, in the next 3 months, Railways will open the e-ticketing facility to foreign debit/credit cards for foreign tourists and NRIs. Bar coded tickets, scanners and access control on a pilot basis on major stations to tackle the menace of ticketless travel and ensure hassle free travel for passengers will be introduced.
Presently Railways has different digital solutions for ticketing, grievance redressal and other issues. “We intend to integrate all such facilities into two mobile apps; one dealing with all ticketing issues and the other for receipt and redressal of complaints and suggestions related to all our services,” Prabhu proposed.
6) Dealing with tatkaal menace: There are plans to progressively ensure CCTV coverage at tatkaal counters. “We plan to institutionalise a system of third party periodic audits and certification of security features of the PRS website,” Prabhu said.
7) Improving customer interface: Railways will install information boards in trains enumerating the onboard services and also GPS based digital displays inside coaches to provide real time information regarding upcoming halts. Railways will also make one person accountable for all facilities on the train.
Railways is also looking at inviting FM Radio stations for providing train borne entertainment by installing PA systems in trains.
8) Swachh Rail: Railways will introduce ‘Clean my Coach’ service on Pan-India basis, where a passenger can request cleaning of his/her coach/toilets on demand through SMS. It will also install additional 30,000 bio-toilets in the next financial year.
9) IRCTC services & food availability: IRCTC will extending e-catering services from existing 45 large stations to all 408 ‘A-1’ and ‘A’ class stations. It will also explore the possibility of making mandatory catering services optional in trains. Local cuisine of choice will be made available to passengers.
Apart from this, Railwats will look at pilot availability of children’s menu items on trains. Further baby foods, hot milk and hot water would be made available on stations and changing boards for babies would be provided in train toilets.
10) Safe travel & insurance: To minimize the financial loss to passengers from untoward incidents, Railways is working with insurance companies to offer optional travel insurance for rail journeys at the time of booking.
11) Rail Mitra Sewa & Accessible India: Railways has introduced Sarathi Seva in Konkan Railway to help the old and disabled passengers requiring assistance at stations. “We will expand this service at many more stations. We will strengthen the existing services for enabling passengers to book battery operated cars, porter services, etc. on a paid basis in addition to the existing pick up and drop, and wheel chair services,” Prabhu said.
In pursuance of the objectives of the “Accessible India” campaign, Railways plans to ensure that all stations under redevelopment are accessible by Divyang. “We will make efforts to provide at least one Divyang friendly toilet at each platform in A1 class stations during the next financial year and also ensure availability of wheelchairs in sufficient numbers at these stations,” he said.
Source:- Economics Times