Union Budget 2017- On IRCTC, No Service Charge When Booking Rail Tickets
The Indian Railways needs “transformative measures” to make it competitive, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in his Budget speech today, stating that the government would launch end-to-end logistic solutions for some goods and would also offer competitive ticket booking facilities. So saying, he announced that service charge on booking rail tickets on the Indian Railways website IRCTC.com is now withdrawn. This would also encourage e-ticketing,
The government did away with the century-old tradition of presenting a separate Railway Budget, merging it into the Union Budget that the Finance Minister presented today. Mr Jaitley said the government has ended a colonial practice for the first time in over 100 years and promised that the autonomy of the Railways would be maintained. “I feel privileged to present the first Budget of Independent India that contains the Railways too,” the minister said.
With too many incidents of trains being derailed recently, the Finance Minister has proposed setting up a passenger safety fund of Rs. 1 lakh crore – called the “Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh” (National Rail Safety Fund) – which will cover upgradation of tracks and the signal system, besides eliminating unmanned level crossings.
The Finance Minister has allocated Rs. 1,31,000 crore for the Railways in today’s Budget, which proposes 3,500 km of new railway lines in 2017-18. Last year’s Budget had provisioned for 2,800 km of new rail lines. The Budget has proposed eliminating all unmanned level crossings on the broad gauge network by 2020.
Mr Jaitley said 500 stations would be made disabled-friendly and promised to equip all coaches with bio toilets, announcing a “Clean my coach” App for passengers. He has also provisioned for more solid waste plants at stations.
Three Railway public sector undertakings or PSUs will be listed on stick exchanges, the minister said. These are Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) and Container Corporation of India (Concor).