Increase in Lower Berth For Senior Citizen Quota

Increase in Lower Berth For Senior Citizen Quota

The combined quota earmarked for Senior Citizens; Female passenger 45 years of age and above and Pregnant women in Sleeper, AC-3 tier and 2A classes has been enhanced by 50% and now this quota is six lower berths per coach in Sleeper class and three lower berths per coach in AC 3 tier and AC 2 tier classes. In case of Rajdhani, Duronto and fully Air Conditioned/Express trains, the number of lower berths to be earmarked under this quota in 3 AC class are four per coach as against 3 in normal Mail/Express trains.

Passenger Convenience

With a view to facilitate the passengers, in recent past, Indian Railways have taken various steps, some of which are as under:

i. Introduction of the Alternate Train Accommodation Scheme known as ‘VIKALP’ to give option to waitlisted passengers to shift to alternate train having vacant accommodation.

ii. Provision of facility to physical handicapped persons to book reserved tickets online.

iii. Introduction of paperless unreserved tickets on mobile.

iv. Provision of All India 24x7 helpline No. 138.

v. Automatic refund of confirmed/RAC/e-tickets on cancellation of trains.

vi. Launching of Hindi Portal of IRCTC.

vii. Enhancement of Senior Citizen Quota as well as quota earmarked for physically handicapped persons.

viii. Making provision in the system for preparation of reservation charts at least four hours before the scheduled departure of train.

ix. Provision of facility to book available accommodation after preparation of first reservation chart through internet as well as across any computerized PRS counter.

x. E-ticketing facility to foreign debit/credit cards for foreign tourists and non-resident Indians (NRIs).

The announcements made in the Rail Budget 2016-17 are being monitored to ensure their implementation at the earliest. A large number of announcements have already been implemented or action initiated to implement them, some of which are enhancement of Senior Citizen Quota, Extension of ‘VIKALP’ Scheme, ticket booking through international credit/debit card, cancellation of tickets through Railway Enquiry No.139, extending e-catering services to all 408 A1 and A class stations, availability of adequate wheel chairs, enforcing reservation in catering units to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Class, Women and Divyang etc., making mandatory catering services optional in trains, availability of children’s menu items on trains as well as baby food at stations, exploring the feasibility of providing an option to the customers for drinking tea in Kulhad etc.

Ministry of Railways has not proposed any such scheme.

( Waiting list of train is monitored on regular basis and to cater to additional rush during peak periods, special trains are run and load of existing trains are augmented subject to operational feasibility.


Development Of Railway Stations

In Railway Budget 2011-12, 24 railway stations of tourist importance were identified for upgradation of passenger amenities in association with Ministry of Tourism (MOT) on a cost sharing basis of 50:50 subject to a ceiling of `240 Cr. from MOT and MOR together. The stations are Hyderabad, Hospet, Agra, Rae Bareli, Varanasi, Kamakhya, Haridwar, Gaya, Madurai, Tarapith, Thiruvananthapuram, Amritsar, Delhi Safdurjung, Kurukshetra, Aurangabad, Nanded, Puri, Tarakeshwar, Rameshwaram, Tirupati, Guwahati, Jaipur, Ajmer and New Jalpaiguri. Agra Cantt., Rae Bareli and Varanasi are in the State of Uttar Pradesh.

Out of the 24 stations, 15 stations (i.e. Amritsar, Agra Cantt., Gaya, Rae-Bareli and Thiruvananthapuram (first phase), Jaipur, Ajmer, Puri, Delhi Safdarjung, Kurukshetra, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Tirupati, Hospet and Haridwar) have been jointly inspected. Out of these 15 stations, estimates for 13 stations (i.e. Amritsar, Agra Cantt., Gaya, Rae-Bareli and Thiruvananthapuram, Jaipur, Ajmer, Delhi Safdarjung, Kurukshetra, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Tirupati and Puri) have been sent to MOT for release of funds.

MOT has released part funds for 5 stations (i.e. Amritsar, Agra Cantt., Gaya, Rae-Bareli, Thiruvananthapuram) amounting to `12.50 Cr on 11.02.2014, for 2 stations (i.e. Ajmer and Jaipur) amounting to `5.2 Cr. on 10.10.2014 and for Puri station amounting to `3.07 Cr. on 2.5.2016. The work at Puri station was completed by IR with its own resources and work has been taken up at the other stations also where funds have been released by MOT.

The works at Agra Cantt. and Varanasi stations are in progress.


DFC Projects

The status of implementation of the Eastern (Ludhiana to Dankuni-1856 km.), and Western (Jawaharlal Nehru Port to Dadri-1504 km.) Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) is as under :-

(i) Land Acquisition:- Compensation Award for 90.9% of the land to be acquired has been given.

(ii) Contract Award:- 84% of Civil Contracts, 78% of Electrical and 78% of Signal Contracts have been awarded.

(iii) Overall physical progress- 29% and Financial Progress:- 27.4%.

Progress of the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) Project is regularly reviewed. As a result of the reviews, critical issues affecting work such as land acquisition, forestry clearance and contract award etc. are identified and taken up.

For both Eastern and Western DFCs, implementation schedule and timelines have been drawn up and are being monitored on regular basis. The total expenditure upto 31.05.2016 (including for land) for DFC Projects is Rs.22315.66 crore (Eastern DFC- ` 8354.04 crore and Western DFC- ` 13961.62 crore).

In Budget Speech 2016-2017, the following freight corridors:- (i) East-West Corridor (2328 kms) (Kolkata-Mumbai) ; (ii) North-South Corridor (2343 km) (Delhi-Chennai) ; and (iii) East Coast Corridor (1114 km) ( Kharagpur-Vijaywada) have been identified.

Measure To Boost Freight Traffic By Indian Railways

Following steps have been taken by Railways to boost non-coal sector participation in Railways Transportation:

(i) Doing away with the busy season surcharge on Jumbo Rakes from April-2016 to June-2016.

(ii) Appointment of key customer managers to engage with different industries.

(iii)Tariff Rationalisation:

• Distance of Mini Rakes increased from 400kms to 600kms.

• Automatic Freight Rebate Scheme in Traditional Empty Flow Direction has been extended till 30.09.2016.

• Port Congestion Charge (10% of Base Freight) has been withdrawn from 13.04.2016.

• Merry-go-Round System has been introduced.

• Dual Freight Policy for Iron Ore has been withdrawn from 10.05.2016.

• Short Lead concession implemented from 15.07.2016.

• Withdrawal of “Busy Season Charge” (15% Base freight) from 01.05.2016.

• Classification of Commodities-

(i) Classification of Red Mud reduced from Clas-150 to 120;

(ii) Groundnut Seeds added under Oil cakes and Seeds at Class-120;

(iii) Oliflux added under Minerals and ores at Class-160.

In order to attract additional traffic to Railways and thereby increasing freight revenue, a number of initiatives have been taken by Indian Railways. These are as under:-

(i) Liberalized Wagon Investment Scheme- So far, 66 rakes by 15 firms have been approved for procurement out of which 31 rakes have been inducted and are running on Indian Railway’s system.

(ii) Wagon Leasing Scheme- Two companies have been registered as wagon leasing company, after which 12 rakes of BLC wagons were procured and approval for 4 new BLC and 2 BTAP rakes have been accorded.

(iii) Special Freight Operator Scheme- 3 rakes of BRNA wagons have been procured and running in Indian Railway’s system.

(iv) Automobile Freight Train Operator Scheme (AFTO)- Two companies have been registered as AFTO. Approval has been given for procurement of 12 rakes of BCACBM wagon. Out of which, 9 rakes have been procured and is running on IR system.

(v) Private Freight Terminals (PFT)- To facilities development of a network of freight terminal with private investments to provide efficient and cost effective logistics services with warehousing solutions, a scheme namely Private Freight Terminal was introduced. So far 82 proposals have been received, out of which 35 terminals have been notified and are functional.


Rail Amenities

Passenger coaches of express and mail trains are provided with a certain level of amenities and fittings including good quality cushioned seats/berths and it is continually endeavoured to maintain them in good condition. Besides, cleaning of coaches including floor/toilets in these trains is also undertaken as per scheduled periodicity. Under On Board Housekeeping scheme, cleaning of nominated trains is undertaken on run whereas, under Clean Train Station scheme, limited mechanised cleaning of identified trains is undertaken at select stations during their scheduled halts. In its endeavour to provide quality and hygienic food to the passengers, railways have developed and operationalized an institutionalized mechanism for monitoring of catering services through regular inspections at various levels.

Regular inspections are conducted by Service Improvement Group (SIG), Passenger Amenities Committee (PAC), Passenger Services Committee (PSC) to check passenger amenities and remedial measures are taken as when deficiencies are noted.

Further, Passenger feedback is taken through Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) on regular basis on the scale of 1 to 5 score (5 for excellent service and 1 for bad service) for six items of passenger services, i.e., Station Cleanliness, Train Cleanliness, Air Condition Cooling, Bed Rolls, Food Quality and Punctuality of Trains. Appropriate action is taken by the concerned authorities on the deficiencies pointed out by the passengers for the above-mentioned services.

As per prescribed norms, requisite amenities in the form of fittings and fixtures inside the coaches such as seats/berths, windows, fans/air-conditioning, lights, toilets, washbasin, magazine bags, bottle holder, mobile laptop charger etc. are provided for comfortable journey. Regular maintenance and upkeep of these items is carried out during laid down maintenance schedules in open line as well as during periodical overhauls in the railway workshops. Besides, identified coaches are also subjected to a ‘Mid-life’ rehabilitation to restore their condition. Special Drives are launched and surprise checks are conducted from time to time to monitor the passenger amenities in trains.

The steps taken to improve the quality of food in railways inter-alia include: (i) Phased introduction of station based e-catering at all ‘A1’ and ‘A’ category stations for widening the range of options available to passengers for ordering food of their choice. (ii) Introduction of precooked food (‘ready to eat’ meals). (iii) Operation of centralized Catering Service Monitoring Cell (CSMC) (toll free number 1800-111-321) for prompt redressal of passenger grievances relating to the catering activities and real time assistance to travelling public. (iv) Imposition of penalties in case of deficiencies detected in services. (v) Operation of all India Helpline (No.138) for rail-users to lodge complaints/suggestions regarding food and catering services (vi) A Twitter handle with the address @IRCATERING has also been made operational to cater to the complaints/suggestions with regard to catering services.


Conversion Of Railway Stations

Indian Railway has advertised its plan to redevelop ‘A-1’ and ‘A’ category stations (about 400 in number) which are generally located in metros, major cities, pilgrimage centres and important tourist destinations on ‘as is where is’ basis, by inviting proposals from interested parties with their designs and business ideas. The entire cost of station redevelopment is to be met by leveraging commercial development of land and air space in and around the stations.

(c) Railways have issued guidelines for provision, augmentation and improvement of passenger amenities at railway stations through individuals, NGOs, Trusts, Charitable Institutions, Corporations etc. These guidelines have also been sent to High Commission/Embassy of United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia with a view to elicit cooperation from Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in this regard.


Executive Lounge at Railway Stations

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been entrusted with the task of setting up Executive Lounges at 49 stations. Executive Lounge at New Delhi, Agra Cantt. & Jaipur stations have started operation. Executive Lounge at Delhi railway station is targeted for completion by December, 2016. The site for Executive Lounge at Nizamuddin railway station is to be finalized. Executive Lounge has not been planned at Sewagram and Wardha railway stations in Maharashtra.


Battery Operated Vehicles For Disabled

Zonal Railways have been authorized to introduce Battery Operated Vehicles (BOVs) at major railway stations for disabled, old age and sick passengers on first come first served basis through sponsorship from individuals, NGOs, Trusts, Charitable institutions, Corporates and PSUs/Corporate Houses under their Corporate Social Responsibility with no charge to passenger or to the Railway. 59 BOVs have been provided at 40 major railway stations.

Battery Operated Vehicles at major stations are provided depending upon the passenger traffic and availability of sponsors.

Head Over Generation Method

Head On Generation (HOG) technology enables drawing of power from the overhead lines in electric locomotives and from engine itself in diesel locomotives to feed the coaching train compartments for running various electrical appliances. At present, 25 electrical locomotives and 10 diesel locomotives are provided with HOG system.

Speed of Trains

With a view to increasing speed of trains in Indian Railways, ‘Mission Raftaar’ has been announced in the Railway Budget 2016-17. The mission envisages a target of doubling of average speed of freight trains and increasing the average speed of all non-suburban passenger trains by 25 kmph in next 5 years. In order to implement it, a cross-functional directorate has been created in Railway Board. Technical development of railway stations in this regard includes advanced signalling technology based systems such as electronic interlocking, train protection and warning systems, etc. to ensure safe and efficient running of trains at higher speeds.

Action Plan for improving mobility and increasing average speed includes removal of speed restrictions, construction of road over bridges (ROBs) and road under bridges (RUBs), right powering of trains, introduction of twin-pipe in wagons and replacement of conventional trains by Main Line Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) trains and Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) trains.

Mechanism To Deal With Complaints of Passengers

Government has set up different channels of registering passengers complaints/grievances namely, Complaints Books at the Stations and in trains, May I help you booth/Counters at Stations, All India Help line No.-138, CPGRAMS, COMS, Social Media etc. Large numbers of complaints are received through these channels which are sent to concerned authorities for prompt and satisfactory redressal.


Cleanliness In Railways

Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Special Cleanliness Campaign was launched on Indian Railways on 2nd Oct, 2014. Regular events on cleanliness are planned and organised to improve and maintain cleanliness at Railway premises including toilets, platforms and tracks at railway stations in the mega cities. Weekly special intensive cleaning drives at major Railway stations in rotation have also been undertaken by Zonal Railways.

On completion of one year of Swachh Bharat Mission, theme based cleanliness drives have been launched by Indian Railways from 25th Sept, 2015. Campaigns for increasing the awareness and participation from all sections viz. Railway staff, Railway users/public as well as Charitable Institutions/Social Organisations, were organised at many major stations. Enforcement of Indian Railways (Penalties for activities affecting cleanliness at railway premises) Rules, 2012 has also been intensified.

An amount of Rs. 315 crores approx. have been spent by the Ministry on cleanliness and sanitation at all stations of Zonal Railways during the year 2015-16. This includes cleanliness of toilets, platforms and tracks within station limit, circulating area, waiting rooms under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.


Adarsh Station Yojana

The expenditure on development of stations under ‘Adarsh’ Station Scheme is generally funded under Plan Head –‘Passenger Amenities’. Fund allocation under this Plan Head, during 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 is Rs. 914.40 crores, Rs. 1047.90 crores, Rs. 1211.81 crores and Rs. 838.27 crores (Budget Estimate) respectively.

Development of identified stations under ‘Adarsh’ station scheme is a continuous process. 1252 stations have been identified for development under this scheme, out of which 986 stations have been developed. The remaining stations have been planned for development by the end of the year 2017-18.


FDI In Railways

Government in August, 2014 had permitted 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in construction, operation and maintenance in certain identified areas in the Rail sectors.

The objectives of FDI policy are: modernisation and strengthening of rail network and development of rail-related industries through infusion of foreign equity and technology leading to growth in manufacturing and enhancing competitiveness.

Areas identified for FDI are not in conflict with management and operations of the existing network of Indian Railways which continues to be with Government of India.

(e): Ministry of Railways issued Sectoral guidelines in November, 2014 for Domestic/Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in rail sector in certain identified areas.

This Press Release is based on information given by the Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Communications and Minister of State for Railways in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 20.07.2016 (Wednesday).

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