New Delhi, December 26: In its endeavour to provide passengers with world-class amenities, the Indian Railways has seen many radical changes and developments in the past couple of years.  From bringing in newer technologies and services, to enhancing the experience of travelling by train, the Indian Railways has left no stone unturned to improve the passenger experience. In 2017, Railways announced the introduction of six new trains across its Tejas Express, Humsafar Express and Antyodaya Express services along with Uday Express. The six new trains will comprise two new trains each in the Tejas, Humsafar and Antyodaya services. Also Read - First 'Oxygen Express' Train Leaves For Maharashtra Amid Rising Cases, Piyush Goyal Shares Video

The Humsafar trains focus on India’s middle-class travellers, will be an exclusively three-tiered AC train with optional meals. The Tejas Train, on the other hand, is India’s answer to the Bullet train, achieving speeds ranging up to 130 km per hour with quality onboard facilities. The double-decker Uday trains have been introduced with the intention of increasing passenger capacity in railway services on busy routes. These trains will run overnight, connecting major cities across the country. The Antyodaya trains have been announced for the economically backward. These superfast trains, which will have only unreserved coaches, will focus on transporting the common man in a time-bound manner without burning a hole in his pocket. Also Read - ATTENTION: Railways To Run 5 Special Trains To Bihar From NDLS, ANVT

Indian Railways has developed and operationalized an institutionalized mechanism for monitoring of quality and hygiene of catering services through regular inspections at various levels to address catering complaints. For the first time, Rail Budget 2017-18 has been presented along with the General Budget. It was Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who presented the rail budget 2017. Also Read - Indian Railways Adds More Special Trains From Delhi, Mumbai Amid Migrant Crisis. Check New Routes

In November, the Indian Railways on Wednesday unveiled its new ‘Swarna’ coaches of the Rajdhani Express. The new coaches come with facilities such as ‘auto janitor’ system in toilets and LED lighting. The Railways has decided to upgrade Premium Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains under ‘Operation ‘Swarna’. The new Swarna coaches have initially been provided in the Sealdah-New Delhi Rajdhani. The key features include completely painted interiors with an aesthetic international colour scheme and LED lighting to improve illumination.

To ensure optimal utilization of available accommodation, following initiatives have been undertaken by Indian Railways:-

  1. i) Finalization of first reservation chart at least 4 hours before the scheduled departure of the train.
  2. ii) After preparation of first reservation chart, current ticket booking facility provided through any reserved ticket booking window as well as on internet till preparation of second reservation chart.

iii) Transfer of vacant available accommodation after preparation of second reservation chart to next remote location.

Facilities provided online through IRCTC website:

  1. Waitlisted passengers are given the option of accommodation in any other train without payment of any difference of fare or grant of refund thereon under VIKALP scheme. This facility can also be availed for e tickets booked prior to 01.04.2017
  2. Tickets booked across reserved ticket booking window can be cancelled through IRCTC website or through 139.
  3. In case of e tickets, boarding points can be changed through IRCTC website at least 24 hours before the scheduled departure of the train.
  4. The facility of online booking of wheel chair provided free of cost to passengers.
  5. The facility of online booking of retiring rooms through IRCTC website has been introduced.
  6. Disposable bedrolls can be purchased through IRCTC website.
  7. E Catering introduced to increase food options available with passengers.

As part of Prime Minister Digital India initiative, the Indian Railways has launched free WiFi facilities at 28 stations on the Konkan Railways route. RailTel, a Miniratna enterprise of the Government, focusing on providing broadband and VPN services, in collaboration with Google, aims at providing free WiFi services at 400 stations by 2018. The Indian Railways will be installing CCTV surveillance systems at more than 900 stations across the country. CCTV cameras will be installed in platforms and waiting areas, with control rooms set up so that the RPF personnel can monitor activities by using the Nirbhaya Funds. As of now, there are around 8,000 stations across the country, with 344 stations already covered by CCTV cameras.

Highest Railway Arch Bridge:

To provide direct connectivity to the Kashmir Valley, the Indian Railways launched the main arch of the world’s highest bridge on River Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district.  The Chenab Bridge in Jammu and Kashmir got the highest railway arch bridge in the world at 359 meters, (1,178 ft), even taller than the Eifel Tower. The 1.3-km-long bridge that forms a crucial link in the 111-km stretch between Katra and Banihal is being constructed at a cost of Rs 1,250 crore. Designed by consultants from Finland and Germany, the challenging task of putting up the steel arch was inaugurated on Monday.

In September, Union Minister Piyush Goyal was made the new Railway Minister, after a spate of train accidents derailed Suresh Prabhu’s run. Prabhu, a chartered accountant by profession, retained his cabinet rank in the reshuffle took oath as the new commerce and industry minister. Goyal, who was the Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy, was elevated to the cabinet rank in the reshuffle.

Railway Budget:

To recall, an investment plan of 8,56,020 Crore for next five years has been envisaged for development of infrastructure of Railways in the budget of 2015-2016. The investment of 8,56,020 Crore comprises 1,99,320 Crore for Network decongestion, 1,93,000 Crore for Network expansion, 39,000 Crore for National Projects, 1,27,000 Crore for Safety, 5,000/- Crore for Information Technology / Research, 1,02,000/- for Rolling Stock, 12,500/- Crore for Passenger Amenities, 65,000/- Crore for High Speed Rail & Elevated corridor, 1,00,000/- Crore for Station redevelopment and logistic parks and 13,200/- Crore for Others. Expenditure on development of Rail and passenger security related infrastructure is a continuous process. Need-based investment is made for development of security related infrastructure under different plan heads.