The Union Railway Budget 2016 presented today by union railway minister Suresh Prabhu, focused on enhancing travel experiences, with new developments in Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation’s (IRCTC) services.
IRCTC will begin to manage catering in a phased manner; local cuisine of choice will also be made available, along with a specially designed menu for infants and children. IRCTC’s e-catering services will be increased from 40 stations now to over 400 stations.
Three new trains will be operated: Humsafar Express, a fully air conditioned fast train with optional food services; Tejas Express, a premium superfast train with onboard facilities such as entertainment, better aesthetics and vending machines; and Uday Express, an overnight double-decker train, which will operate on business travel routes. Additionally, Wi-Fi services will be made available at around 100 railway stations for business travellers and youth.
Commenting on the budget, Shwetank Singh, vice president, development and asset management, InterGlobe Hotels said, “We are happy with the railway budget presented by the government today and we believe that it presents many progressive steps to boost not just the sector, but ancillary industries as well. From a hospitality sector point of view, we were looking keenly at last mile connectivity, timeliness of trains as well as ease of transit.”
“Better services for the common man and businesses such cashless transactions, online bidding for ticket procurement, e-ticketing through international debit and credit cards, on-demand reservations for wait-listers, sale of tickets through hand-held devices, etc. will give a huge growth impetus to the hospitality sector in India,” Singh added.
Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com opined, “Suresh Prabhu’s railway budget is definitely positive and concentrates on tackling issues of the common man. Complete transparency, modernisation, enhanced infrastructure, safety, improved hygiene and overall resonance with the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ campaign makes this a positive and consumer-friendly budget. It is also good to witness a slew of initiatives that will use modern technology such as Wi-Fi at stations, automated ticket machines, bio toilets and bar-coded tickets and all this with no hike in passenger fares.”