Friday, February 24, 2006

Laloo to tap yet unknown sources

Laloo to tap yet unknown sources of revenue: "Some of the key schemes and proposals expected in the Budget:

• Introduction of Janata Kranti Express—on the lines of the New Delhi-Patna-New Delhi Sampoorna Kranti Express—where passengers have to pay a slight premium over normal fares in return for limited stops and faster arrivals.

• To cut losses on account of passenger traffic (which was Rs 6,500 crore in 2004-05), Railways will increase speed, length and occupancy of passenger trains. Around 200 mail and express trains expected to converted into super-fast trains and all popular trains to have 23-24 coaches each.

• For easy access to tickets in rural areas, a Gramin Ticket Booking Sevak and Jan Sadharan Booking Sewa. Under this, passengers may buy tickets from the village itself — from a local resident gramin ticket booking agent.

• Booking agents in various parts of the city for issue of unreserved tickets through computerised unreserved ticketing system.

• Upper-class rebates expected to be announced are aimed at increasing occupancy, especially in airconditioned classes.

• Upgrade of customer service by improving onboard amenities and revamping stations.

• Freight tariff, main source of revenue, will remain unchanged. While introduction of private investment in freight trains has been announced, the strategy for freight would be to increase volumes to reduce unit costs.

• Getting private contractors to set up, on Build-Operate-Transfer basis, toilets at stations. No regulation of fee to be charged. The contract period to be five-ten years after which toilets become Railways property.

• New waiting rooms at selected stations through public-private partnership.

• Ad rights on coaches of Rajdhani, Shatabdi, mail and express trains will also be introduced on a pilot-project basis.

• An entire division on each zone will be given to reputed advertising firms on sole advertising rights.

• Onboard catering, initially on selected trains, handed to pantry car contractors who will supply bedrolls to upper class passengers free of cost but charge Rs 25 from those in sleeper class. These contractors will also be responsible for coach cleaniness."

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