NEW DELHI: For the third successive year, the Railway Budget for 2011-12 spared the passengers of any increase in fares and proposed no hike in freight rates while introducing 56 new trains, including nine non-stop Duronto trains and three Shatabdis.
Regretting the two incidents of sabotage that led to a large number of deaths last year, Mamata said to avoid such incidents in future, anti-collision devices will be commissioned in three more divisions and all unmanned crossings will be done away with in the next fiscal.
Mamata, however, said rail accident rate has declined from 0.29 per cent last year to 0.17 per cent at present. The states with lowest number of rail accidents will get two new projects and two new trains as an incentive, she said.
The booking charges for A/C as well as non A/C seats have been slashed by 50 per cent and online ticketing is all set to get cheaper.
The minister also extended concession for physically-challenged persons and Kirti and Shaurya Chakra awardees to travel in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains, besides extending facility of card passes to parents of unmarried posthumous Paramvir Chakra and Ashok Chakra gallantry award winners.
Also, the lower age limit for female senior citizens will be reduced from 60 to 58. Concession for male senior citizens has been increased by 10% to 40%.One of the highlights of the budget was the introduction of over 200 new routes, especially for the North-East. Another special addition is the introduction of double-decker air-conditioned train service on the Jaipur-Delhi and Ahmedabad-Mumbai routes.
Three new Shatabdi trains will be introduced on Pune-Secunderabad, Jaipur- Agra and Ludhiana-Delhi routes, she said. New Duronto trains will be introduced on Allahabad-Mumbai, Pune-Ahmedabad, Sealdah-Puri, Madurai-Chennai, Chennai- Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai Central-New Delhi routes.
As many as 47 additional trains will be introduced for the Mumbai suburban section and nine for Chennai, Banerjeee said.
Also, trolleys will be introduced at railway stations, said the minister. The 'Go India' smart card ticket project will be launched this year.
The railways is planning to invest Rs 57630 cr in the 2011-12 fiscal and railway earnings, she said, are set to exceed the Rs 1 lakh crore mark.
As many as 442 stations are to be completed and 584 upgraded by 2012 and new railway line capacities are to be increased to 700 km, she said.
Banerjee announced that the first coach from the new rail factory at Rae Bareli will roll out in the next three months. Also, there is a plan to set up a rail industrial park in Nandigram and a metro coach factory in Kolkata. A coach factory is also planned to come up at Singur as is a track-machine industry in Uluberia.
A locomotive centre is to come up in Manipur's Imphal. Railways is to set up a bridge factory in J&K considering need for large number of bridges on railway projects in the state, Banerjee said.
Enthused by the high number of medals in international sports competitions won by the Railways, a Sports Cadre will be set up in the department.
As many as 16,000 ex-servicemen will be inducted by March in the Railways for the first time. A 700 MW gas-based power plant will be set up at Thakurli in Maharashtra, she said.