The transport giant of the nation with its accelerating speed is all set to enter in 2020 with new infrastructural changes and facilities. Various announcements, refurbishing station premises, launching of digital apps for facilitating travelers, construction of elite waiting halls with five-star facilities, including high-speed trains and much more were announced in 2019 and brought to action. Several apps were introduced for travelers and rail employees for their betterment. IRCTC has taken digital catering to a new level where passengers can order food online in train within a few clicks. The year 2019 was a race from the slow countdown of developing the infrastructure of Railways to achieving a bigger announcements and achievements. However, there’re many reasons which made Indian Railways appear in the spotlight this year. Here’re some achievements of our world’s fourth-largest public transporter.
Partial Privatization of Indian Railways:
Soon after Mr. Goyal took his second term to manage railways, he came out with a 100 days plan and included privatization as one of its main parts in the blueprint. Including private players in the Indian Railways was planned to streamline and revive those routes having low congestion. Also under privatization, 150 new trains will be given to private operators soon. Tejas Express was a live example.
Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS):
To end departmentalism, Indian Railways has decided to merge eight of its services into one and restructure the railway board to streamline railway operations and business development. The newly hired board will also have some independent non-executive members having a huge experience in finance, economics and management fields. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said there will be some “outside talent”,independent members, and comprising experts with over 30 years of experience, helping the Board to set a “strategic direction”.
Recommended Read: Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS): Restructuring of Railway Board
Launch of Vande Bharat Express:
15 February 2019 was the auspicious day when the dream project of Indian Railways came to existence. It was the Train 18 later renamed as “Vande Bharat Express” for the Delhi-Varanasi route. This train is the replica of the bullet trains of japan which runs at a speed of 180 km/hour and reduces the travel time to a greater extent. According to the Ministry of Railways earlier “this year, Modern Coach Factory (MCF), Raebareli which has been a shining example of ‘Make in India’, will also manufacture more Vande Bharat Express train sets in the coming months”.
Food Safety on railways stations:
Various unauthorized vendors occupy the railway platforms and sell their unhygienic produce at high prices which directly affects the health of the passengers during their journey. Though IRCTC provides the passengers to order food for train journey online, it was necessary to control the vendor management at stations. This year, Mumbai Central was the first station to get the “EAT RIGHT” award which means any passenger can purchase any food item from any IRCTC registered vendors at platform premises irrespective of any second thought.
Hike in Train Ticket Fares:
The New Year 2020 came with great fervor and excitement for celebration, but to some extent brought a piece of bad news for the travelers as Railways announced a hike in the ticket prices. Passengers traveling via season tickets and regular unreserved tickets can take a sigh of relief as there’s no hike in those prices.
World’s Largest Recruiter:
It also successfully completed one of the world’s largest recruitment exercises where an unprecedented 47.45 lakh candidates applied for over 64,000 posts of Assistant Loco Pilots and technicians. About 1.17 crore candidates appeared for over 63,000 posts in Level I (erstwhile Group D) posts and around 24.75 lakh candidates appeared for over 13,500 posts for Junior Engineer (JE). Railways has maintained that the burden of the seventh pay commission, along with the salary of 12 lakh employees and pension liability of 13 lakh pensioners have added to railways’ financial woes.
Technical Boost to Railway Services:
In 2019, railways went big with digital India, offering WiFi at 5400 stations, introduced Real-Time Train Information System (RTIS) in collaboration with ISRO for automatic train chart preparation and passenger train information. The year also saw railways improving its punctuality performance for Mail/Express trains to 75.53 per cent as compared to 68.08 percent in the same period of 2018 reflecting an improvement of 7.45 percent.