Passenger amenities, top priority, says Mamata
In a thanksgiving budget, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday proposed no increase in passenger fares or freight tariff while announcing a slew of measures including launch of 12 non-stop point-to-point long-distance trains and air-conditioned double-decker coaches for inter-city travel.
Presenting the Budget for 2009-10 in the Lok Sabha, the first after the United Progressive Alliance's return to power, she also announced concessions for unorganised sector by proposing monthly season ticket of Rs 25 for people with monthly income of up to Rs 1,500 for travel up to 100 km.
Her proposals included introduction of 57 new train services, extension of 27 new trains and increase in frequency of 13 trains and making 'Tatkal' scheme more user-friendly by reducing the advance booking period from five days to two days and minimum charge from Rs 150 to Rs 100.
The sops also covered students of Madrassas to whom concessions will be extended. Concessional monthly season tickets to students in Kolkata will be applicable for travel in the Kolkata Metro Rail also.
The Budget estimates for 2009-10 projects a freight loading target of 882 million tonnes, an increase of 49 million tonnes and a 6 per cent increase in the number of passengers.
Gross traffic receipts have been estimated at Rs 88,419 crore (Rs 884.19 billion), which is Rs 8,557 crore (Rs 85.57 billion) more than 2008-09.
Ordinary working expenses have been budgeted at Rs 62,900 crore (Rs 629 billion) to cover the full year impact of the Sixth Pay Commission and payment of arrears due in 2009-10.