The Railways will launch 16 special ‘Bharat Tirth’ trains linking popular tourist sites as well as pilgrimage centres across India, in order to boost tourism.
The Railway Budget for 2010-11, presented in the Lok Sabha on February 24, 2010, by Mamata Banerjee, Minister for Railways, has proposed no increase in passenger fares or freight rates.
This is the 7th year in succession that passenger fares have not been increased.
The tariff for transporting foodgrain, kerosene and fertilisers has been reduced by Rs 100 per wagon in order to deal with the rise in prices.
The Railway Budget also proposes to bring down the maximum limit of service charge on e-booking of ticket to Rs 10 for the sleeper-class and by Rs 20 for the AC class. Currently, the maximum service charge on e-booking of ticket is Rs 15 for the sleeper-class and Rs 40 for the AC class.
Mamata Banerjee announced in her budget an array of concessions – including free travel for children up to 18 years; free travel, in three-tier AC and sleeper class, for cancer patients travelling for treatment; as well as continuance of concessions for journalists and for students of madrassas.
As many as 101 new suburban services will be started in Mumbai as well as more train services in Chennai and Kolkata.
A special train – called the Sanskriti Express – to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore will run across India and also to Bangladesh, Mamata Banerjee said.
While the special tourist trains, the Bharat Tirth, will be launched on 16 routes, there will be 6 new long-distance, non-stop Duronto Express trains and 4 short-distance Duronto Express day trains.
The budget estimates for 2010-11 pegs the cargo-loading target at 944 million tonnes – 54 million tonnes more than the revised estimates of the current year.
Passenger traffic is expected to go up by 5.3%.
The other highlights of the Railway Budget 2010-11 include concession to the film industry; plan for electrification of 1,000 kilometres in fiscal 2011; the Janmabhoomi train (connecting areas in the western sectors); the Karmabhoomi (sleeper trains for the unorganised sector); special trains for women; the work under Mumbai suburban area under MUTP phase 1 to be completed in 2010, and under phase 2 to be completed by March 2014; Kolkata Metro to be extended inside the city; funding for metro rail projects up by 5%; starting door-to-door service for freight movement; launching of double-decker trains on a pilot basis; and premium tatkal service for transporting parcel and freight.
New trains have been proposed to be run on the following routes: Howrah-Chennai-Puducherry-Madurai-Rameswaram-Kanyakumari-Bangalore-Mysore-Chennai-Howrah; Howrah-Gaya-Agra-Mathura-Vrindavan-New Delhi-Haridwar-Varanasi-Howrah; Howrah-Varanasi-Jammu Tawi-Amritsar-Haridwar-Mathura-Vrindavan-Allahabad-Howrah; Howrah-Vizag-Hyderabad-Araku-Howrah; Howrah-Ajmer-Udaipur-Jodhpur-Bikaner-Jaipur-Howrah; Pune-Jaipur-Nathdwara-Ranakpur-Jaipur-Mathura-Agra-Haridwar-Amritsar-Jammu Tawi-Pune; Mumbai-Pune-Tirupati-Kancheepuram-Rameswaram-Madurai-Kanyakumari-Pune-Mumbai; Pune-Ratnagiri-Goa-Bangalore-Mysore-Tirupati-Pune; Bhopal-Dwaraka-Somnath-Udaipur-Ajmer-Jodhpur-Jaipur-Mathura-Vrindavan-Amritsar-Jammu Tawi-Bhopal; and Ahmedabad-Puri-Kolkata-Gangasagar-Varanasi-Allahabad-Indore-Omkareshwar-Ujjain-Ahmedabad.