Mr. Suresh Prabhu’s Speech Continues…
13.Let me now turn to the details of eleven major thrust areas of our action plan:
A. Quality of life in journeys:
14.I have not increased the passenger fares. We are directing our efforts to make travel on Indian Railways a happy experience with a mix of various initiatives.
15.Cleanliness is a major area of dissatisfaction. Ensuring higher standards of cleanliness is of utmost priority for us. We want to make Swachh Rail the driving force behind this Government’s flagship programme – Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Hence, we now work on Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat.
16.We propose to create a new department for keeping our stations and trains clean. Integrated cleaning will be taken up as a specialized activity, which will include engaging professional agencies and also training our staff in the latest cleaning practices. Railways plan to set up ‘waste to energy’ conversion plants near major coaching terminals to dispose waste in an environment-friendly manner. One pilot plant will be set up, to begin with, followed by more plants in a phased manner.
17.The condition of toilet facilities in our stations and trains needs major improvement. We will build new toilets covering 650 additional stations compared to 120 stations last year. Bio-toilets are being fitted in coaches. So far we have replaced the existing toilets with 17,388 bio toilets. This year we intend to replace another 17,000 toilets. Research, Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) has also been tasked with making available within a period of six months a design for vacuum toilets.
18.Even as the quality of Indian Railways’ On-board Housekeeping Service (OBHS), presently available in 500 pairs of trains, is being re-looked to make it more effective, we will take simple steps immediately to address customer concerns. The feasibility of disposable bag along with bedroll for the purpose of collecting their garbage is being considered. The coverage of built in dustbins will be extended to non-AC coaches as well.
19.I take this opportunity to appeal to my fellow citizens that Indian Railways is your travelling home! Please help us to keep it clean.
20.We will launch a programme to improve design, quality and cleanliness of bed linen within the next six months. We have approached NIFT, Delhi for designing bed linen. Additionally, the facility of online booking of disposable bedrolls at select stations is being extended to all passengers through the IRCTC portal on payment basis. We will increase the number of mechanized laundries.
21.Every responsive organization should have a system to address grievances from its valued customers. An all-India 24X7 helpline number, 138, will become functional to attend to the problems of passengers on a real time basis. Passengers will be able to call up for complaints while on trains. A mobile application to redress Railway-related complaints is also being developed. We intend to start this facility on a pilot project basis on Northern Railway from 1st March 2015. Based on the experienced gained and the feedback received from passengers, this will be extended to all Railways soon thereafter. Further, keeping in mind the criticality of security related issues, we have dedicated a toll-free number 182 for receiving security related complaints. Railways would utilise resources from the Nirbhaya Fund for augmenting security of our women passengers.
22.Today one of the biggest problems faced by the common man intending to travel in unreserved class is purchasing a ticket. We are introducing ‘Operation Five Minutes’ to ensure that a passenger travelling unreserved can purchase a ticket within five minutes. Provision of modified ‘hotbuttons’, coin vending machines and ‘single destination teller’ windows will drastically reduce the transaction time. For the differently-abled travellers, a special initiative is being launched whereby they can purchase concessional etickets after one-time registration. It is also proposed to work towards developing a multi-lingual e-ticketing portal. We will move towards crediting all refunds through the banking system.
23.In Central Railway, Western Railway and Southern Railway suburban sections, we have already started a pilot project of issuing unreserved tickets on smart phones. We hope to extend this facility progressively to all stations. Automatic ticket vending machines with smart cards and currency options have also been installed at many stations. It is proposed to proliferate this further and also to introduce debit card operated machines. Introduction of integrated ticketing system on the lines of rail-cum-road tickets on Jammu – Srinagar route will be expanded.
24.For the benefit of all our brave soldiers, a Defence Travel System has been developed for elimination of Warrants to make travel easier. This facility has been commissioned in 600 locations out of about 2,000 locations. This facility will be further expanded.
25.To provide freedom to our valued passengers to select their meals from an array of choices including local cuisine, ecatering has been introduced in 108 trains on an experimental basis from January this year. Food can be ordered through the IRCTC website at the time of booking of tickets. We are working to integrate the best food chains in our country into this project. Depending on the response from our customers, the facility will be extended to cover more trains. It is also intended to set up Base Kitchens in specified Divisions to be run by highly credible agencies for serving quality food.
26.At the moment water vending machines are sparse. We will expand this to cover most Railway stations. This will ensure availability of clean drinking water at very low cost to the people apart from being an environment friendly measure.
27.Hand-held terminals will now be provided to Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs), which can be used for verification of passengers and downloading charts. This system will help us to move towards paperless ticketing and charting and expedite finalization of refund claims apart from saving reams of paper. We are also exploring the idea of extending the facility of SMS on mobiles as a valid proof of travel for PRS tickets as well.
28.We are putting in place an integrated customer portal, which will be a single interface for the customers to access different services. Seamless navigation would be possible across different websites of Railways.
29.A centrally managed Railway Display Network is expected to be introduced in over 2,000 stations over the next two years which will aid in providing information on train arrival/departure, reservations, general and emergency messages and also any other information of interest to citizens. This facility will promote “Digital India Campaign” and also unlock huge advertising revenue potential.
30.We propose to introduce an “SMS Alert” service to inform passengers in advance the updated arrival/departure time of trains at starting or destination stations. Similarly SMS alert would be sent 15/30 minutes in advance of arrival of the train at the destination.
31.For the safety of our women passengers, surveillance cameras will be provided on a pilot basis in selected mainline coaches and ladies’ compartments of suburban coaches without compromising on privacy.
32.I am happy to announce that our Delhi Division is taking up a project for introducing on-board entertainment on select Shatabdi trains on license fee basis. Depending on the response, the facility will be extended on all Shatabdi trains.
33.Mobile phone charging facilities would be provided in general class coaches and the number of charging facilities would be increased in sleeper class coaches.
34.So far, 1052 stations have been identified for upgradation of Passenger Amenities at Station under Adarsh station scheme. It is proposed to include 200 more stations under this scheme.
35.Wi-Fi at all A1 and A category stations is being provided. Further, as part of Digital India initiative, Wi – Fi will be provided at B category stations as well.
36.Online booking of retiring rooms has already been initiated. The facility of self-operated lockers would also gradually be made available at stations. It is proposed to provide concierge services through the IRCTC at major stations for the assistance of passengers for their pick up and drop. We will also provide a facility for online booking of wheelchair on payment basis for senior citizens, patients and the differently-abled passengers through IRCTC on select stations.
37.More berths will be made available through increase in number of coaches to meet the growing demand for confirmed seats on the trains. We will achieve this through efficient utilization of assets. Trains, which are fully patronised throughout the year, will be augmented with additional coaches from trains which have relatively lower occupancy levels. Further, capacity in identified trains will be augmented to run with 26 coaches from the existing 24 coaches. More General class coaches will be added in identified trains to benefit the common man.
38.It is also proposed to introduce air-conditioned EMU service on the Mumbai suburban sections after comprehensive assessments of ongoing trials.
39.We will replace the present ladders used for climbing upper berths, which are uncomfortable with user friendly ones. We have approached the National Institute of Design for this purpose. As a short-term measure however, we propose to increase the quota of lower berths for senior citizens. TTEs would also be instructed to help senior citizens, pregnant women and differently-abled persons in obtaining lower berths. Folding ladder would be made available in coaches for easy climbing. The middle bay of coaches will be reserved for women and senior citizens for reasons of safety.
40.For better customer experience we would focus on superior coach design and interiors. IR is collaborating with NID to develop ergonomically designed seats. We also intend to progressively replace all coaches with LHB design coaches.
41.With a view to providing superior riding experience and about 20% savings in journey time, it is proposed to introduce a very modern train system called train sets. These are similar to bullet trains in design and can run on existing tracks without an engine to haul them. For the Railways it would imply higher capacity, greater energy savings and increased throughput. We hope that the first set of these trains would be running on our system within the next two years. Based on the experience, train sets will be considered for manufacture in India. It is our endeavour to expand jobs for Indians at every level.
42.Lifts and escalators have been planned at major stations to facilitate easy movement of the elderly and different lyabled passengers. An amount of Rs. 120 crore has been provided for this purpose which is about 76% more than the final allotment in the current year. All newly manufactured coaches will henceforth be Braille enabled and Rail Coach Factory has been asked to explore the possibility of building wider entrances for the ease of differently-abled passengers.
43.IR has been trying to provide better passenger amenities at all stations. I am happy to inform the House that this year we have increased the funds allotment for passenger amenities by 67%. I request all corporates, NGOs, charitable institutions and religious institutions to come forward and invest generously for passenger amenities from their CSR fund. I also request all MPs to use part of their MPLAD funds in improving facilities at Railway stations. It is with gratitude that I mention the names of Shri P C Mohan, MP from Bengaluru Central and Shri Gopal Shetty from North Mumbai who have donated Rs. 1 crore and Rs. 1.5 crore respectively from their MPLAD funds for passenger amenities.
44.Madam Speaker, our Hon’ble Members of Parliament represent a vast number of people and could serve as an important link between Railways and the people. Local representatives are in the best position to offer solutions to satisfy the local aspirations. We propose to create Divisional Committees in each Railway to be chaired by Members of Parliament, which will serve as an important link between Railways and the people of India.
Mr. Suresh Prabhu’s Speech Continues…