It is perhaps the biggest news of the day for many people in India apart from the eight wicket victory over Australia by the Indian cricket team earlier today. The Rail Budget has announced that there will be no hike in the rail fares and that comfort and safety of the passengers will be assured on top priority basis.
This rail budget has been praised for being forward looking. It is an unbelievable news item, particularly for the middle class who depend a lot on rail travel. It is good news for them that the train fares will remain unchanged. But this could be a cloaked affair because just about less than six weeks ago, some train tariffs had gone up. It has been announced that the tatkal reservation charges and freight and clerk charges will go up.
This year, over one hundred new trains are going to be introduced. There is a proposal to introduce escalators at all major train stations in the country. These key stations are also going to get executive waiting lounges.
There is going to be a planned elimination of unmanned level crossings for the safety of passengers and people crossing. The railway protection force will come into play here. Other features that are being proposed are modern kitchens in express trains with stricter quality control, free Wi-Fi facility in select trains and a deployment of new anti-collision system.
The tatkal reservation fee is going up from Rs. 75 to Rs. 90 for the sleeper class and from Rs. 200 to Rs. 300 for the executive class bookings. The clerk charges have been raised by Rs. 5 and the cancellation charges have been raised by Rs. 10.