Now that the rail budget of India is placed in the Parliament, one can well see it visibly as to what it stands for –virtually any relief to the passengers or the consumers, or so so of a window dressing. Some salient features of the budget presented by the Railway Minister, Pawan Kumar Bansal, are like this:
- There is no increase proposed in the basic passenger fare.
- Freight charges are increased by 5.8%.
- Reservation charges in respect of different categories are considerably hiked.
- Cancellation charges in respect of all the categories of class ranging from Rs.5/- to Rs.50/-
- Internet ticketing hours to be from 00.30 hrs to 23.30 hrs introducing e-ticketing through mobile phones.
- Introduction of 67 Express trains and 26 normal passenger trains on different routes.
Some like Gopinath Munde of BJP called the rail budget as Rae-Bareli budget, obviously to appease Sonia Gandhi, the Chair person of UPA. This looks to be too frivolous an allegation as there is nothing much for Rae-Bareli in the proposed rail budget. No increase in passenger fares looks like a farce as it forms more of an election slogan than any real leaf to the travellers. Increase in reservation and cancellation charges amounts to an over all increase in the fares only as all this after all affects the pocket of the passenger. The railways have already failed to ensure necessary security to the passengers coupled with every day occurring accidents, and it would have been in their interest if there was more emphasis on these counts instead of increasing number of the trains.