The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Debarghya Poddar, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur.
Railway Minister Mr Suresh Prabhu in his second Rail Budget 2016 stressed upon creating value for customers through innovative ways and augmenting the customer experience in the process. Keeping in line with his customer focused vision, he proposed a slew of measures which will only make common man happy and satisfied with one of the world’s largest railway network. The following eleven measures will definitely bring cheers to the common man:
1) For the unreserved passenger:
Proposal for Antyodaya Express coaches, a long-distance, fully unreserved, superfast train service, for the common man to be operated on dense routes.
Proposal to add two to four Deen Dayalu coaches in some long distance trains for unreserved travel to enhance the carrying capacity for the masses. These coaches will also have facility for potable drinking water and a higher number of mobile charting points.
2) For the reserved passenger:
Three select train services, Humsafar, Tejas and UDAY were announced. Humsafar and Tejas will ensure cost recovery by way of tariff and non-tariff measures. Humsafar would be fully air conditioned third AC service with an optional service for meals.
Tejas, on the other hand will showcase the future of train travel in India. Operating at speeds of 130 kmph and above, it will offer on board services such as entertainment, local cuisine, Wi-Fi, etc. through one service provider for ensuring accountability and improved customer satisfaction.
3) No fare hike:
Railway Budget spared passengers and goods movement from any increase in tariffs.
4) SMART Coaches:
Railways is planning to re-imagine the design and layout of coaches to ensure higher carrying capacity and provision of new amenities including automatic doors, bar-code readers, bio-vacuum toilets, water-level indicators, accessible dustbins, ergonomic seating, improved aesthetics, vending machines, entertainment screens, LED lit boards for advertising, PA system and more.
5) Ticketing facilities:
Railways intend to commence sale of tickets through hand held terminals for the benefit of the suburban and short distance travellers. Initiating sale of platform tickets through ticket vending machines which would be made compatible with not only cash but also credit/debit cards was also proposed. Railways will open the e-ticketing facility to foreign debit/credit cards for foreign tourists and NRIs. Bar coded tickets, scanners and access control on a pilot basis on major stations to tackle the menace of ticketless travel and ensure hassle free travel for passengers will be introduced.
6) Dealing with Tatkaal menace:
Plans to progressively ensure CCTV coverage at tatkaal counters.
7) Improving customer interface:
Railways will install information boards in trains enumerating the on board services and also GPS based digital displays inside coaches to provide real time information regarding upcoming halts. Railways will also make one person accountable for all facilities on the train. Railways is also looking at inviting FM Radio stations for providing train borne entertainment by installing PA systems in trains.
8) Swachh Rail:
Railways will introduce ‘Clean my Coach’ service on Pan-India basis, where a passenger can request cleaning of his/her coach/toilets on demand through SMS. It will also install additional 30,000 bio-toilets in the next financial year.
9) IRCTC services & food availability:
IRCTC will extending e-catering services from existing 45 large stations to all 408 ‘A-1’ and ‘A’ class stations. It will also explore the possibility of making mandatory catering services optional in trains. Local cuisine of choice will be made available to passengers.
Apart from this, Railways will look at pilot availability of children’s menu items on trains. Further baby foods, hot milk and hot water would be made available on stations and changing boards for babies would be provided in train toilets.
10) Safe travel & insurance:
To minimize the financial loss to passengers from untoward incidents, Railways is working with insurance companies to offer optional travel insurance for rail journeys at the time of booking.
11) Rail Mitra Sewa & Accessible India:
Railways has introduced Sarathi Seva in Konkan Railway to help the old and disabled passengers requiring assistance at stations.
It is undoubtedly an impressive budget for the citizens of India with plenty of measures to feel cheerful about, but only their successful execution and implementations will make customers delighted.