New Delhi: The railways will focus on safety and passenger amenities, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said on Wednesday as the Lok Sabha.

"We increased funds for safety. We need to give better services if we increase the fares. There are many complaints on cleanliness," Bansal said while replying to the debate on the Railway Budget 2013-14 in the Lower House of the Parliament.

The fares were hiked before the Budget. The BJP, JD-U, AIADMK and Trinamool Congress staged a walkout during the debate. Bansal justified the hike in cancellation and reservation charges in the budget saying it was needed to curb touts who book tickets in advance.

Stating more bio-toilets would be installed in new coaches, the minister said plaques of corporates who spend Rs.2 crore as their social responsibility on station maintenance would be put up. The minister vowed to end manual scavenging on the railway network and said around 1.5 lakh vacancies would be filled up by this year.

The minister also said the ambitious dedicated freight corridor project was moving satisfactorily. The Trinamol Congress members accused the minister of neglecting West Bengal and walked out in protest.

Later, when the minister was announcing some new trains, the BJP, Janata Dal-United and AIADMK members also walked out in protest saying the opposition ruled states were neglected in the rail budget. Bansal countered the charge saying the government was equally concerned about all states and any railway project benefits all sections in a state."There is no discrimination among states," said Bansal.

Taking a dig at the Trinamool Congress, Bansal said funds sanctioned for West Bengal (when the ministry was with the Trinamool Congress) were never utilised."We will not indulge in financial profligacy. We have less money," he said. However, the minister also faced protests from Congress members who were requesting him to announce new trains and lines in their areas.

(Agencies)

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