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Updated: February 27, 2013 16:26 IST

Railway budget, a mixed bag: consumer bodies

Staff Reporter
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No improvement in cleanliness, safety, and punctuality

“Neither pro-people nor anti-people; neither good nor bad.” This is the reaction of consumer organisations of Tiruchi to the Railway Budget 2013-14 presented in the Parliament on Tuesday.

The announcement of increase in superfast surcharge and hike in tatkal charges have not gone down well with the consumer groups and rail users here.

Terming the budget as “neither pro-people nor anti-people,” the secretary of Consumer Protection Council of Tamil Nadu, S.Pushpavanam, claimed that between 2012 and 2013 there was no improvement in cleanliness, safety, and punctuality. Nothing in the budget suggests that there will be any improvement in these areas between 2013 and 2014, he said in a statement.

“The railways have increased the superfast surcharge. They will also increase the number of superfast trains. There are 900 and odd express trains out of which nearly 700 are superfast trains running at the speed of 55 km per hour . Tatkal is a very direct hike. The indirect hike is that the percentage of tatkal tickets in any given train can be increased depending on the season and demand. It’s a double whammy.”

On the announcement of new trains, he said last year 75 express trains and 26 passenger trains were announced, but how many became operational? However, he welcomed the introduction of Chennai-Karaikudi weekly train and Nagercoil-Bangalore train via Tiruchi.

The long pending demand of Tiruchiites that Rockfort Express should start from Tiruchi may get fulfilled if the proposed Chennai-Thanjavur Express train was run at the earliest, he said.

Though the Railway Minister has not hiked passenger fare now, increasing supplementary charges for superfast trains, reservation fee, clerkage charge, cancellation charge, and tatkal charges would adversely affect the passengers, especially senior citizens, said M.Sekaran, president, Federation of Consumer and Service Organisations, Tiruchi.

Describing the budget as “neither good nor bad”, he said there were no fruitful announcement in the interest of the passengers especially those who were travelling in unreserved coaches. The tickets were being sold indiscriminately without considering the capacity of the unreserved coaches, he said.

Welcoming the announcement of new trains, he said there was no announcement regarding several trains which were suspended due to gauge conversion. There was no announcement of restoration of the operation of Rock Fort express from Tiruchi as was expected even after announcement of a new train from Chennai to Thanjavur via main line, he added.

Tamil Nadu has not been given due priority in the railway budget, said N.Ramakrishnan, founder secretary, MGR Nalpani Mandram.

No additional funds have been provided to Tamil Nadu in the railway budget which is disappointing, said M.Lourdhuraj, general secretary, Train Travellers Welfare Association, Tiruchi.

H.Ghouse Baig, secretary, Goldenrock branch of the Consumer Protection Council-Tamil Nadu said that the Railway Budget was staff friendly as well as passenger friendly.

The announcement of filling 1.51 lakh vacancies has brought cheers among railway employees . The neglect of Tiruchi, the headquarters of the Railway Division, continues . Announcements on escalators and additional wheel chairs, quality food, eco-friendly steps such as solar and wind energy are other salient features, he added.

Keywords: Railway budget

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