I normally do not have a view on the budget – simply because I am skeptical of what will get done. However, one thing that I have loved about the Na Mo Government is the implementation. They have not done any big bang theories..but have been chipping away at the small, insignificant looking thing and making an impact.
1. More toilets: given the ‘Swachha Bharat’ movement, Suresh Prabhu, has embarked on a cleanliness drive which is likely to make travelling a great pleasure going forward.
Caveat: People have to know how to keep it clean.
2. More time to plan and book your tickets: 120 days. If you can book your tickets so much in advance, I hope they also keep a system by which I will be able to ALTER the date of the journey. This will save a lot of server time….and there can be ‘alteration’ charges.
3. More technology for booking, complaints, feedback, safety: brilliant move, and can be done incrementally.
4. No new trains!! Yipee no train to Malda! However if he had to he would have introduced new trains from Mumbai and a few from Ahmedabad. He resisted that. I fully agree that it is not the Railway Minister’s job to announce new trains!!
5. More money to be spent on maintenance: should reduce accidents.
6. Improving efficiencies: sounds very small, but efficiencies are brought in incrementally – a big bang approach cannot work!
What I like about all these things being mentioned in the budget document is that the implementation can start TODAY. Let us say the Minister wants to build 650 toilets – if properly implemented it means about 650 stations and its surroundings will become cleaner. Let us assume only 550 toilets get built! SO WHAT…that much of India will become cleaner, right?
With the kind of land that they have in good locations, they could have created a slightly upmarket ‘bath’ joints. Charge say Rs. 200 and provide a clean bathroom, towel etc. Will dramatically help small businessmen, salesmen, etc. who now need to book a room just for the basics.
I am also happy that he has called it the INVESTING TIME – once the results start coming in, he can increase fares too. Let us face it there is a very big middle class India which is paying a MUCH HIGHER PRICE for travelling in ‘sleeper comfort’ – when they are going from Jaipur to Bengaluru. The train journey is so complicated.
How much do people pay? 2x the train fare. Time to capture the market.
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