The Railway Budget, being the UPA Government’s last Budget before general election, is a mix of politics and economics, with a special focus on Congress-ruled states. Passenger tariffs have not been hiked directly, but indirectly by increasing charges for reservation, cancellation, tatkal and superfast trains.
Passengers would not mind paying a little more if rail travel were made comfortable and safe. Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has promised to improve passenger facilities and security, better catering services, cleaner coaches, toilets and platforms, improved Internet bookings and free wifi in trains; he must deliver on these promises. He also needs to focus on strengthening and modernising infrastructure and the security system of the Railways which has been neglected so far. Poviding Collision Avoidance System and the Comprehensive Fire and Smoke Detection System in trains needs to be taken up on a priority basis.
M. C. Joshi
Pragmatic Rail Budget
This refers to your editorial ‘’A journeyman’s Budget’ (Business Line, February 27). Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal deserves to be complimented for presenting a pragmatic, and not populist Railway Budget, keeping in mind the interests of all States of the country. Not raising railway fares, he has spared the aam aadmi of the burden. Further, Bansal’s priority to lay stress on safety, security, modernisation measures and introduction of coaches is commendable with a view to providing a comfortable journey to rail users. However, the proposed raising of supplementary and cancellation charges in sleeper coaches will tax travellers. It is also expected that railway staff need to be more passenger-friendly.