Thursday, February 26, 2015

LokSatta Party Welcomes Railway Budget

The LokSatta Party has welcomed Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu's focus on "customer experience, safety, infrastructure and self-sustenance" in Rail Budget 2015. Prabhu announced that Rs 8.5 lakh crore would be invested in the railways over the next five years to de-congest and expand the network. This spells good news for passengers who can hope to experience better facilities in the years to come.

Welcoming the broad direction of the budget, LokSatta founder Jayaprakash Narayan tweeted: "Focus on big picture rather than on nitpicking, long-term vision & integration with other sectoral goals are hallmarks of Prabhu’s budget. Railways can emerge as an engine of growth & job creation. Leadership, competence, integrity & imagination matter (sic)."

The party also welcomed Prabhu's decision not to announce new trains or projects but to focus on completing existing works. LSP national vice-president Dr. Ashwin Mahesh said many such announcements made every year by successive railway ministers have failed to see the light of day. He welcomed the decision to work to increase train speeds and have more semi high-speed trains but sounded a note of caution when he said these improvements must come only on the back of an upgrade and better maintenance of the railway network.

Among other announcements that the party welcomed were the decisions to replace 17,000 toilets with bio-toilets, set up an all-India 24x7 helpline number, create a mobile application to address passenger complaints, launch ‘Operation 5 minutes’ that will ensure that a passenger travelling unreserved can purchase a ticket within five minutes, offer paperless ticketing, set up SMS alert services to inform passengers about arrivals and departures, and provide modern facilities for disabled and senior citizens.

LSP national spokesperson Jagadheeswaran D said these steps need to be implemented quickly to improve both the passenger experience and the railways' safety record, which hasn't been encouraging in recent years.

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