26Feb

Rail Budget 2015-16 India Update : Suresh Prabhu’s Speech (PART 4)

Mr. Suresh Prabhu’s Speech Continues…

Rail Budget 3

B. Station Redevelopment

45.IR caters to all sections of society, especially the poor. Our Prime Minister has very rightly said that our Railway stations should be best of the breed. Indian Railways has been attempting redevelopment of stations, but the effort has not met with much success. Such an idea needs the power of imagination, combined with a stable business sense. A transformed station can change the skyline of small and medium cities and bring in revenues, and become an incubator of local economy.

46.While the process for development of the already selected stations would continue, for the rest of the stations, we propose to revamp the station redevelopment policy completely and simplify processes for faster redevelopment by inviting open bids from interested parties. The present stations will be available for development on “as is where is” basis, to exploit the space and air rights on concession basis. Land will not be sold. Anyone can participate in this bidding with their designs and business ideas by providing the operational requirements of Railways for running trains at these stations. All approved bids will be processed by independent experts and uploaded on the web and integrated with best bidding practices. For quick decision-making, the Zonal and Divisional offices will be empowered. A monitoring cell will be constituted to ensure adherence to timelines. We want our Railway stations to be iconic structures with architecture reflecting the culture and character of the city. We invite the state governments and the local bodies to be our partners in this endeavour.

47.Most of the Railway terminals located in big cities are amidst very congested areas. We propose to develop Satellite Railway terminals in major cities with the twin purpose of decongesting the city as well as providing service to passengers residing in suburbs. The satellite terminals will have modern facilities for originating and terminating trains, which will also briefly stop at the existing major terminals. Ten select stations will be taken up in 2015-16 for this purpose.

Mr. Suresh Prabhu’s Speech Continues…

26Feb

Rail Budget 2015-16 India Update : Suresh Prabhu’s Speech (PART 3)

Rail Budget 2

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…

26Feb

Rail Budget 2015-16 India Update : Suresh Prabhu’s Speech (PART 2)

Mr. Suresh Prabhu’s Speech Continues…….

9. I believe that good governance emerges out of participative government. In a very short span of time I have visited most of the states; tried to interact with many employees, stakeholders and customers. I took the initiative to connect directly with the users through social media. I am glad to inform that over 20000 suggestions were received and we have already started working on the feasible ones. You may also find some incorporated in this budget. This experiment gave me an insight into how involved people are with the Railways and their will to see it getting better and reaffirming its position as the growth engine of this country.

10.We have prepared a forward-looking agenda. Over the next five years, IR has to go through a transformation. We have fixed four goals for ourselves.
a) To deliver a sustained and measurable improvement in customer experience. We are launching initiatives that will systematically address customer concerns about cleanliness, comfort, accessibility, service quality and speed of trains.
b) To make Rail a safer means of travel.
c) To expand Bhartiya Rail’s capacity substantially and to modernise infrastructure. Given the importance of rail travel for our citizens we will increase our daily passenger carrying capacity from 21 million to 30 million. We will also increase track length by 20% from 1,14,000 km to 1,38,000 km, and we will grow our annual freight carrying capacity from 1 billion to 1.5 billion tonnes.
d) Finally, to make Bhartiya Rail financially self-sustainable. This will mean generating large surpluses from our operations not only to service the debt needed to fund our capacity expansion, but also to invest on an on-going basis to replace our depreciating assets.
This will require material improvement in operating efficiency, tighter control over costs, greater discipline over project selection and execution, and a significant boost to Railways’ revenue generating capacity.

11.These goals will also ensure that Railways is an integral part of all the flagship programmes that our Prime Minister has launched for improving the quality of life of the downtrodden, from Swachh Bharat to Make in India, and from Digital India to Skill India.

12. How will we achieve this? Our execution strategy will have five drivers:

a) Adopting a medium-term perspective: Any organization must address short-term priorities without glossing over the long-term and medium-term vision. As Vinoba Bhave once said, “You will stumble if you look close to your heels and would certainly fall if you ignore the vision of the long road.”
Madam Speaker, this Railway Budget is part of a trilogy of documents that chart out our vision for the future. The first in the series is the White Paper that has been placed today for the information of the House. The second part is today’s Budget for the year 2015-16. This will be followed by a Vision-2030 document that we intend to bring out later this year. The proposals contained in this Budget should, therefore, be seen as the beginning of a Five Year Action Plan to transform the Railways.

b) Building Partnerships: Transforming the Railways will require us to partner with the key stakeholders. First, consistent with the Prime Minister’s vision of cooperative federalism, we will work closely with the States to make the Railways the backbone of national connectivity. Their economies and citizens will benefit dramatically from an improved railway system. The voice of the locals will reverberate through the State Governments in the planning and execution of railway projects. They will also be able to raise financing through special purpose vehicles that we will create with them. Most of them have already expressed a keen interest to make the improvement of the Railways a joint endeavour and a shared success. Second, we will partner with PSUs to ensure that sufficient capacity is built to transport critical commodities like coal, iron ore, and cement, etc., from where they are extracted or imported to where they are consumed or processed. Third, we will partner with multilateral and bi-lateral organizations and other governments to gain access to long term financing and technology from overseas.
Finally, we will partner with the private sector to improve last mile connectivity, expand our fleet of rolling stock and modernize our station infrastructure. Here I must mention that Rail will continue to be our precious national asset. It will continue to serve the common man. The people of India will always own Railways.

c) Leveraging additional resources: Over the next five years, we envisage an investment of Rs 8.5 lakh crore. A broad indicative five-year investment plan is attached as Annex 1 to the speech. Budgetary support is the quickest and easiest option to finance the plan but the Ministry of Finance also faces challenges of competing demands although a small initial contribution to Railways can be catalytic. But the scale of our investment needs is such that it will require us to seek multiple sources of funding. We will tap other sources of finance. Multilateral development banks and pension funds have expressed keen interest in financing new investments. Their time horizon is aligned with ours. They seek sources of predictable and recurring revenue, which we can provide through the issuance of long-term debt instruments to fund revenue generating railway projects.

d) Revamping management practices, systems, processes, and re-tooling of human resources: To get the most out of the additional resources that we will be investing, we will need to ensure the highest standards of operational and business efficiency. I am happy to report an improvement on our financial performances in the year 2014-15 relative to what we had anticipated earlier. I propose the operating ratio for 2015-16 at 88.5% as against a targeted operating ratio of 91.8%in 2014-15 and 93.6% in 2013-14. I am pleased to state that not only will this be the best operating ratio in the last 9 years but the best after the VIth Pay Commission.
The Railways will not be able to deliver sustained improvement in operating efficiency unless changes are made to speed up decision making, tighten accountability, and improve management information systems. Our people are our biggest asset. Even in the short term that I have held this portfolio I have seen the enthusiasm and dedication of Railway personnel across the country. For our transformation journey to succeed it will be very important to harness the talent of our employees through training and development.

e) Setting standards for Governance and Transparency: The Railways belongs to the whole nation. Its functioning must conform to the highest standards of governance and transparency. Indian Railways’ decisions must be fair to all our stakeholders; from our poorest customers, to our employees and our business partners. My first decision as a minister was to delegate all my tender approving powers to the level of general managers. Transparency has many dimensions. It requires better quality of information gathering within that system and improved norms for disclosure of that information. It requires reduction of discretion and standardization of procedures. It requires accountability. Studies have shown that greater transparency and accountability are pro-poor instruments, since the relatively poor suffer more from lack of transparency. Apart from delegation of powers, I am proposing to undertake measures with a view to bringing in transparency in the day-to-day activities benefitting the common man.

Mr. Suresh Prabhu’s Speech Continues…….

26Feb

Rail Budget 2015-16 India Update : Suresh Prabhu’s Speech (PART 1)

Below is the speech of Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu introducing the Railway Budget for 2015-16 on February 26, 2015.

1. I rise to present before this August House the Statement of Estimated Receipts and Expenditure for 2015-16 for Indian Railways.

2. At the outset, let me thank the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi ji, for infusing all Indians with a renewed sense of pride and refreshed the dream of prosperous nation. At a more personal level, I wish to express my gratitude towards him for giving me this opportunity to serve the people of India through the medium of Railways which is his priority. The Prime Minister established the principle of governance when he asked what government was for if not for the welfare of the poor. He challenged us with an inspirational objective when he said that the age of poverty alleviation was over and that the era of poverty elimination had begun. Indian Railways will play its part in this historic mission.

3. Madam Speaker, the railway map of India is a network of veins that pump life-giving blood into the heart of India’s economy. Indian Railways is a unique integrator of modern India, with a major role in its socio-economic development. It is an organization that touches the hearts and existence of all Indians, even Mahatma Gandhi. Bapu decided to undertake a voyage of discovery of India before launching himself into the national freedom movement. And he conducted this Bharat Darshan on trains, always travelling in third class.

4. Unfortunately, Railway facilities have not improved very substantially over the past few decades. A fundamental reason for this is the chronic underinvestment in Railways, which has led to congestion and over-utilization. As a consequence, capacity augmentation suffers, safety is challenged and the quality of service delivery declines, leading to poor morale, reduced efficiency, sub-optimal freight and passenger traffic, and fewer financial resources. This again feeds the vicious cycle of under-investment.

5. This cycle must be put to an end. Once it does, the gains to the economy will be immense: better services, improved connectivity for all citizens including the poorer segments of our society, lower costs and improved competitiveness. Investment in the Railways will have a large multiplier effect on the rest of the economy and will create more jobs in the economy for the poor. Investment in Indian Railways is also necessary for environmental sustainability and well being of future generations.

6. Madam Speaker, the Indian Railways carry a heavy burden of expectations. Citizens who demand better railway services are often not aware of the constraints that the Railways operate under. I wish to flag two; there are 1219 sections on the high-density network, which can be roughly equated with tracks connecting the metros. Out of these, 492 are running at a capacity of more than 100% and there are another 228 that are running at a capacity of between 80% and 100%. If a section is over-stretched, the entire line is over-stretched. There is no slack available for maintenance and train speeds slow down. On a single track, the Indian Railways have to run fast express trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi, ordinary slow passenger trains as well as goods trains. Is it surprising that though Rajdhani and Shatabdi are capable of doing 130 km/hour, the average speed does not exceed 70? Is it surprising that the ordinary passenger train or a goods train cannot average more than around 25 km/hour?

7. In the next five years, our priority will be to significantly improve capacity on the existing high-density networks. Improving capacity on existing networks is cheaper. There are no major land acquisition issues and completion time is shorter. The emphasis will be on gauge conversion, doubling, tripling and electrification. Average speed will increase. Trains will become more punctual. Goods trains can be timetabled.

8. I am reminded of a novel by Shubhada Gogate titled “khandalyachya ghatasaathi”. The novel is a fictionalized account of India’s first railway line being constructed crossing the Sahyadri range. You build a section at a time. You build a tunnel at a time. You then move on to the next section and the next tunnel. You build bit by bit. We must restore the strength of Bhartiya Rail as the backbone of our country’s transportation infrastructure. Bhartiya Rail must substantially regain the market share of freight transport. Rail transport must be made reliable, comfortable and safe and benchmarked to global standards.

I am convinced we can deliver. But we cannot deliver overnight. We will build bit by bit, incrementally. The legacy of past decades will take some time to neutralize.

Mr. Suresh Prabhu’s Speech Continues…….

© 2008-17. All Rights Reserved. Epic Research Pvt. Ltd.