New Delhi: Union Minister Mamata Banerjee rose to deliver the Railway Budget on Thursday with thanks to the Prime Minister for his support in her endeavour.

“Railway is vitally linked to economic growth of the country. We realize our social responsibility as well,” she said in the beginning.

Mamata rued that the image of Railways had been tarnished by accidents and said she would work to reduce rail tragedies. She shared information that rail accident rate has declined from 0.29 per cent last year to 0.17 per cent this year.

Railways will eventually eliminate unmanned crossings in the country. Anti-collision devices will be commissioned in three railway zones including South and South Central, she said.

In a first of its kind initiative, states showing good performance in rail movement will be provided with two new trains and two new projects.

Acknowledging that there was a need for building hundreds of bridges for projects in Jammu & Kashmir, she announced setting up of a factory in the state.

She told reporters earlier in the day that the Budget has been made for the common man.

With elections due in West Bengal in a few months, Mamata announced a flurry of handouts for her constituency. A metro coach factory will be set up in Singur. Rail Industry Park will come up in Nandigram. Track-machine industry has been announced for Uluberia.

The expansion in coach building capacity is being carried out under ‘Vision 2020’ plan. The first coach from the new rail factory at Rae Bareli will roll out in next three months, Banerjee assured, adding that she had fulfilled all her promises.

She also assured that the tracks will be expanded by at least 700 kms. Doling out largesse for the poor, she announced that the Railways will set up ten thousand care shelters for the poor in various parts of the country under ‘Sukhi Griha’ scheme. Scholarships will also be handed out to low income group people.

In Maharashtra, a 700 MW gas based power plant will be set up at Thakurli. Eighty five proposals will be executed through the Private-Public-Partnership model. A software unit will be set up in Darjeeling.

In a passenger friendly initiative, she announced a single window system for buying tickets. Five hundred and eighty four stations will be renovated and 442 new stations will be constructed by next March. 'Go India' smart card ticket project will be launched this year. Ticket booking charges have been cut by 50 per cent and online booking will also become cheaper.

An integrated suburban rail network in large cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata will be set up.

She also announced induction of 16000 ex-servicemen in Railways by March next year. She said restructuring of all cadres was being undertaken and a sports quota will be introduced for deserving sportspersons.

Although Railways are facing losses, Banerjee claimed that earnings are set to exceed the Rs one lakh crore mark. She also said that an additional expenditure of Rs 76000 cr was due to the Sixth Pay Commission.

Annual figures of Railways finances are as follow:
Annual plan for FY 12: Rs 57630 cr
Market borrowings for FY 12: Rs 2059 cr
Annual plan for new lines: Rs 9853 cr

New trains and routes:

*Durantos will be introduced on these routes: Allahabad-Mumbai, Pune-Ahmedabad, Sealdah-Puri, Madurai-Chennai, Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai Central-New Delhi routes.  Frequency of existing Durontos will be increased.
*Double-decker AC trains to be started from Jaipur to Delhi and from Ahmedabad to Mumbai
*Frequency increase: Mumabi-Howrah – four day; Sealdah-Delhi – 5 days; Nagpur-Mumbai – 5days
* Three new Shatabdi trains on Pune-Secunderabad, Jaipur-Agra and Ludhiana-Delhi routes
*Forty seven new trains for Mumbai sub urban area.
*New trains for Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh.
*Inter-state trains for short distances
*New trains for students
*Nine additional services for Chennai suburban
*Forty seven additional services on Mumbai suburban section, says
Banerjeee.
*Kolkata metro lines to be increased

Eligibility age for senior citizen concessions has been reduced to 58 from 60 for travel by rail. Physically challenged people can also enjoy concession in Rajdhani, Shatabdi trains from this year.

JPN

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