The interim railway budget (Feb.13) is a disappointment. More than a few new trains, what the nation expected was a higher allocation for line doubling, electrification, modernisation of stations and, most important, the maintenance of coaches. With eight Central Ministers from Kerala, the poor deal accorded to Kerala — which has been sidelined for years — speaks volumes of their bargaining power to get the State’s due share.
In the aviation sector, customers get low fares for booking early while it’s the other way round at the last minute. If this happens in the railways too (very high fares at the last moment), the commercial objective will overshadow the welfarist approach. The concept that the Railways are for the masses and not the classes should always be kept in mind.
This refers to the article “A decade on the rails with UPA” (Feb.13). The Railways have not looked at vital issues — enhanced safety measures and better coach designs, for example. Approaching elections are only what seem to motivate our railway ministers while seeking to please their respective constituencies is what gives them direction.
The budget is always an occasion to highlight the poor state of the railways. I travelled by the Delhi-Ahmedabad-Delhi Rajdhani in January by air-conditioned second class, and was appalled by the facilities on board. The Rajdhani is supposed to be one of the most prestigious train services in the country.
It is obvious that this railway budget will be geared to an election, with an emphasis on enabling more routes and services. Nevertheless, this time there could have been some provision for enhanced safety measures for women passengers, greater luggage allowance, printed menu cards with rates, and a taxi service run by the railways for passengers.
Keywords: railway budget