|HOME | BUSINESS | RUN-UP TO THE BUDGET 2000-2001 | RAIL BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS|
|February 25, 2000||
Railways to focus on tourism, trans-Asian role, hardselling freight services
The Railway Budget 2000-2001 has given thrust to completion of new lines, particularly in frontier areas of Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, and introduce six long-distance train services this year.
New lines targetted to be completed in 2000-2001 are: Kapadvanj-Modasa, Kashinagar-Kakdweep, Eklakhi-Gajol, Puttaparthi-Penukonda, Bargachia-Munshirhat, Tamluk-Digha and Joruri-Banspani.
Seven new line projects will be taken up next year which are Kotipallli-Narsapur, Jogighpopa-Maynaguri, Ramganj Mandi-Bhopal, Tarakeshwar-Bishnupur via Arambag, Sultangang-Deogarh, Ajmer-Pushkar and Gandhinagar-Adraj Moti-Kalol.
The railways will introduce six long-distance train services this year for connecting Ajmer- Bangalore, Ahmedabad- Nagpur, Sealdah-Amritsar and Nizamuddin-Coimbatore, Jodhpur- Bangalore (weekly) and Sealdah-New Delhi Rajdhani express (biweekly).
Presenting the Railway Budget for 2000-2001 in the Lok Sabha on Friday, Railway Minister Mamta Banerjee announced in all 19 new trains for the year.
The new train services are Lucknow-Bhopal- express (biweekly), Bangalore-Shimoga express (daily), Tirupathi-Nagercoil (biweekly), Sealdah- New Delhi Rajdhani express (biweekly), Jodhpur-Bangalore (weekly), Howrah- Purulia express (daily) Ajmer- Bangalore via Hubli Ahmedabad (weekly) Sealdah- New Jalpaiguri express (triweekly) Bhagalpur-Ranchi Vananchal express (tri-weekly), Okha-Dehradun Uttaranchal express ( weekly), Shalimar- Bankura express (daily) Kakinada- Visakhapatnam-Nagarsol link express (bi weekly), Ahmedabad-Nagpur express (weekly), Sealdah-Amritsar superfast express via Patna Sahib (weekly), Bandra-Gandhidham express, Lucknow-Ballia Chhapra express (daily), Varanasi- Baidhyanath Dham (bi weekly) Bikaner-Suratgarh daily service, and Bangalore-Puttaparthi daily service.
Railways to give tourism a leg-up
The Railways have decided to increase their participation in the promotion of tourism while making available the inspection carriages, popularly called 'saloons', to public on payment basis for commercial purposes and tourism.
The Railway Budget calls for upgrading services and facilities on the Darjeeling Himalayan section, providing two more diesel locomotives for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway which was recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, the second railway in the world to be given this status.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited is expected to become functional by April this year to provide impetus to this sector.
Besides, new 'Palace on Wheels" type of trains, as joint effort between Railways and Maharashtra government, are to be introduced on Bombay-Ratnagiri-Shindhudurg-Goa-Kolhapur-Pune-Ajanta Ellora-Nasik to Bombay route.
India to be pivotal in developing Trans-Asian Railway
Indian Railways are playing a pivotal role in development of Trans-Asian Railway which would span China, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Iran and Turkey onwards to Europe.
She said rail links with Bangladesh and Nepal are going to be restored for goods traffic in the coming year and the ministry is making efforts to begin passenger services soon.
The minister said that the railways are negotiating with the Asian Development Bank for a loan totaling about Rs 38 billion for rail sector's improvement project covering aspects of augmentation of capacity and safety.
She said Indian Railways, which are about one-and-a-half-century old, have served the people successfully till now.
But in today's fast-changing world, with emerging new technologies and financing opportunities, Indian Railways must attune themselves to the new realities.
The relevance of the existing organisational structure, regulatory arrangements, functional modalities and above all, its role in the changing scenario, need a fresh look.
For this, the Railways have set up a Railway Expert Group with members from diverse fields.
The group will submit its report by April 2000. She assured the house that the interest of the railway employees will be fully protected.
Railways to mobilise Rs 6 billion without passenger fare hike
Railways propose to mobilise Rs six billion per annum through adjustments in tariff for freight, parcel and luggage, without changing the existing passenger fare structure.
Banerjee gave a millennium gift to the freedom frighters by allowing them to travel one journey by Rajdhani or Shatabdi train of choice from any station to any destination and back. This facility will be valid for this year only.
A Millennium Card at a cost of Rs 10,000 valid for one year will be issued to any passenger to give him assured reservation in First AC and Second AC classes on any train round the year.
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