Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, in her budget speech on Wednesday, announced the upgrading of 94 stations, conversion of 10 others into world class stations, and the construction of 93 more multi-functional complexes, multi-level parking, and six bottling plants to provide cheap drinking water.
The first among the new series of trains she announced will be the Sanskriti Express — Epar Bangla, Opar Bangla - in commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. The train will be run in consultation with the government of Bangladesh across the border.
Six special trains for women have been named ‘Matribhoomi’ trains, three unreserved ones for the working classes have been christened ‘Karmabhoomi’ trains, and as a tribute to the men in uniform a ‘Janmabhoomi’ train will be run between Ahmedabad and Udhampur.
The pilgrimage series of trains, to be run on 16 routes, will be known as the ‘Bharat Tirth’ trains.
Ms. Banerjee also promised to recruit retired jawans into the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and create 12 companies of women RPF personnel named ‘Mahila Vahini.’
The Railways intends to man all 17,000 unmanned crossings within five years and introduce anti-collision devices, train protection warning systems, and automatic fire and smoke detection systems in 20 pairs of long-distance trains as a pilot project to bring down accidents.
Ms. Banerjee announced a master plan for the development of rail infrastructure in the north-east region and the establishment of a National High Speed Rail Authority for planning, standard setting, implementing and monitoring the execution of six corridors capable of operating trains at 250 to 350 km an hour.
The Minister also intends to revamp the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India for the speedy implementation of the programme.
New initiatives in the freight business include the introduction of a modified wagon investment scheme and special time-sensitive freight trains. The Railways is also considering a premium tatkal service for parcel and freight movement and the need for special wagons for iron ore, fly ash and automobiles.