Railway Budget 2019: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is all set to present the first Railway Budget 2019 of Modi government’s second term as part of the Union Budget 2019. Considering that Indian Railways is the lifeline of India, various developments are being expected on the railway front, including the introduction of new train services. As India looks to introduce its first bullet train service in the coming years, we take a look at the new train services Railway Budget 2019 may focus on, some new train services that have been introduced in the last few years, and the road ahead:
Vande Bharat Express: The ‘Make in India’ Train 18, Vande Bharat Express has been a big technological leap for the Indian railways, ushering it into the era of self-propelled semi-high speed travel on world-class train sets. Vande Bharat Express has resulted in the reduction of travel time between New Delhi and Varanasi by about 40%. Considering its success, Indian Railways is looking to proliferate manufacturing of such train sets with aim to introduce a Rajdhani-style sleeper version as well. Railway Budget 2019 is expected to feature announcements on this front. The Vande Bharat Express boasts several interesting features like on-board hotspot WiFi, automatic doors, GPS-based audio-visual passenger information system, bio-vacuum type toilets, etc. The Railway Ministry is currently trying to identify more routes for this train service.
Humsafar Express: The all AC-3 tier train with 22 coaches was introduced to give a taste of ‘luxury’ to the common man. Specially designed for long-distance overnight journeys, the Humsafar Express boasts multiple modern features such as GPS-based passenger information system, extensive fire retardant, and suppression system, comfortable berths, LED lights, multiple mobile charging points, CCTV cameras, toilet occupancy indicators, modular bio-toilets, tea/coffee/soup vending machines, etc. Incidentally, Indian Railways is able to break-even on AC-3 tier train travel, and the idea of trains like Humsafar Express is to provide a premium Rajdhani-style experience while also increasing fare revenue. More such Humsafar Express trains will be launched this year.
Antyodaya Express: In a bid to improve the quality of travel for unreserved passengers, Indian Railways introduced the superfast train- Antyodaya Express. The train consists of 22 coaches, out of which 20 are general coaches, while the rest 2 are power cars. Some of the train’s key features include LED lights, water purifiers, mobile as well as laptop charging points, fire extinguishers with an anti-theft arrangement, enhanced capacity dustbins and bio-toilets. As Indian Railways looks to offer more value for money to the common unreserved passenger, more such Antyodaya Express train services are expected this year and in the coming years as well.
Deen Dayalu coaches: ‘Deen Dayalu’ coaches were announced to provide a better travel experience to unreserved passengers. So far, several
Mail/Express trains have been equipped with ‘Deen Dayalu’ coaches. In the coming years, more trains are likely to be provided with such coaches in a phased manner. These coaches offer various facilities, including, cushioned luggage rakes, additional handhold in doorway area, enhanced mobile charging facility, potable water similar to Aquaguard type water filtration system, etc.
MEMUs and DEMUs on the Golden Quadrilateral: To reduce train travel time substantially and speed up train services, Indian Railways is stepping up production of Train 18-style MEMUs and DEMUs. The plan is to replace all short-distance MEMUs and DEMUs on the Golden Quadrilateral with modern Train 18-style train sets that will make regional train travel super fast!
Indian Railways is fast moving to world-class travel experience, with focus on semi-high speed trains to compete better with aviation and roadways. Railway Budget 2019 is expected to focus on the new era of train travel and the gen-next trains that will make it possible.