On-board entertainment, SMS alerts, Wi-Fi on cards with tech friendly Rail Budget 2015


KOLKATA: In a 70-minute consumer-focused speech that carried the distinct imprint of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indian Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday presented a slew of measures that introduced mobile friendly facilities for passengers.

While presenting his first maiden Budget, the minister in Lok Sabha proposed to offer on-board entertainment facilities in the railways on similar lines as provided by some aircrafts. Initially, this on-board entertainment facility would be extended on select Shatabdi trains on a license fee basis.

Additionally, SMS alert services to inform passengers of delay and departure timings for trains is also on the cards. “SMS alert to be introduced for train timings,” said the minister.

In order to give passengers more accessibility and connectivity at stations, the minister also proposed that Wi-Fi would to be made available at 400 railway stations. It should be noted that recently the Delhi railway station got Wi-Fi connected.

Not only this, the government also plans to develop a mobile application to address complaints of people.

Commenting on the mobile alerts, free Wi-Fi and technology friendly Budget, experts said that these applications would be particularly useful in locations where fog season means inevitable delays up to 24 hours and cancellations. “A prior SMS alert system will help ensure that travelers do not end up waiting at the station only to find out that their train has been cancelled. Now people will not mind to travelling by trains,” said an expert.

It should be noted that Prabhu did not talk about the application in details or how the app will help in dealing with passengers’ complaints.

The minister also announced that charging facilities for mobile phones would be extended in all trains and stations. “Mobile charging stations will be introduced in general class coaches,” he said.

Additionally, in order to make ticketing more passenger friendly the Budget also proposed “operation five minutes” for issuing unreserved tickets, hot buttons, coin vending machines, concessional e-tickets for differently-abled travelers, for booking tickets a multi-lingual e-portal will be developed. “Passenger travelling unreserved can procure a ticket within five minutes,” he said.

Prabhu also stated that the government aims to create a multilingual e-ticketing system, which will be encouraging for those might not be comfortable in English.

The Railways is further drawing up comprehensive policy to tap latent advertising potential.

Lastly, a good-Internet linked initiative that was announced was that food can be ordered from the IRCTC website at the time of booking. The minister said that, “E-catering has been introduced on some trains on experimental basis, depending on the response, it will be extended.”


• The key themes of the Railway Budget were in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiatives - Swachch Bharat Mission, Make in India and Digital India.

• SMS alert to be introduced for train timings

• Wi-Fi to be available at 400 railway stations

• On-board entertainment facility could be extended on Shatabdi trains

• Mobile charging stations will be introduced general class coaches

• Passenger travelling unreserved can procure a ticket within five minutes

• Mobile application to address complaints of people is also being developed

• Hand-held devices for ticket checkers for moving towards paperless ticketing

• Drawing up comprehensive policy to tap latent advertising potential

Railway Budget 2015, according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is a forward looking, futuristic and passenger centric budget, combining a clear vision and a definite plan to achieve it.

“This is a watershed moment for Railways, marking a paradigm shift from discussing coaches and trains to comprehensive railway reform. I am particularly delighted that for the first time, there is a concrete vision for technology upgradation and modernisation of the Railways. The Railway Budget lays out a clear roadmap to make the Railways the key driver of India`s economic growth, playing a key role in India`s progress. Railway Budget 2015 stands out for its focus on the common man, putting speed, scale, service and safety, all on one track," the Prime Minister said.

Reacting to the maiden railway budget, Kotak Securities head-private client group research Dipen Shah said, “The first railway budget of Suresh Prabhu sets a vision for Indian railways, striving to make it the prime mover of the economy, once again.”

The prime focus of the minister is in enhancing its operations, targeting operating ratio at 88.5 per cent for FY16 from 91.8 per cent in FY15. “Budget carves out various resource mobilisation routes, moving away from budgetary supports. He has proposed to part-finance the ambitious five-year investment plan of Rs 8.56trn through funds from foreign institutions, pension funds, states, PSUs and PPPs both in form of equity and debt through SPVs. Focus is more on implementation and improving the service quality rather than on big bang announcements. Focus is also on commercial viability as much as it is on social welfare. We believe that, efficient execution of these initiatives will indeed improve the passenger revenues while also attracting more freight traffic to railways,” he added.

According to Shah, while change in freight fares seems cosmetic in nature, no change in passenger fare is welcome move, since fuel cost has come down significantly over the period.

The markets have likely been disappointed by the absence of several big announcements relating to the dedicated freight corridors or other capex programmes as well as finer details on FDI / PPP financing. “However, the focus on effective implementation, improving the operating ratio as well as on new initiatives bodes well for the railways in the long term. We expect the focus on deficit as well as reforms to be reflected in the Union Budget, and we will watch out for the same,” concluded Shah.

Latest Reads

2017 was a regulatory roller coaster and the ride continues

NEW DELHI: The year 2017 for the media industry certainly couldn’t be called easy from the point of doing business despite efforts and claims by the federal government that significant progress had been made in the regard.

Specials Year Enders
Guest column: Digital outlook for 2018

MUMBAI: The year 2017 is behind us and, as we peek into 2018, there is so much to look forward to. The digital landscape is so dynamic and ever-evolving that an annual trend-spotting article would be unfair. But still there are key areas where digital is heading and I can safely say that 2018 is...

Specials Year Enders
Content segmentation defines English entertainment, movies in 2017

MUMBAI: It was the year of HD for English entertainment in India. Add to it, the bump up in the number of movie premieres and series that you could now see in better quality. Increased adoption of HD set top boxes encouraged broadcasters to go for HD. Content segmentation has emerged as a big...

Specials Year Enders
DTH's year of consolidation

MUMBAI: It would be safe to say that this was the year of the big DTH challenge. India’s cable TV multi system operators (MSOs) could not go into many phase IV areas and DTH stepped in wherever analogue broadcast signals were switched off following the crossing of the digital addressable system (...

Specials Year Enders
2017 a year of rebranding and extending time slots for Hindi GECs

MUMBAI: The year 2017 was a roller-coaster ride for Hindi general entertainment channels (GEC) in the truest spirit of the term. The tussle for the top slot in the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) ratings has seen pay TV and free-to-air (FTA) channels hold on tight to the rope.

Specials Year Enders
The year of hiccups for marketers

MUMBAI: The year 2017 was when brands were unwillingly thrown into a roller-coaster ride only to emerge dizzy and faint. The highs weren’t enough to ride out the lows.

Specials Year Enders
2017: The year OTTs went regional in India

MUMBAI: Over-the-top (OTT) services were undoubtedly the centre of attraction in 2017. The boom in India’s internet users, mainly aided by the growth of Reliance Jio, ensured that OTT players got the right reception and target audience. Not just  mainstream TV broadcasters but even smaller players...

Specials Year Enders
Making the news: A look at what news broadcasters did in 2017

MUMBAI: News channels were thrown into a storm of activity in 2017 with each player keeping up its oars to wade out of challenges that hit at them like ten-foot waves. With elections and sensational news driving up viewership at various points throughout the year, English news channels had to...

Specials Year Enders
Guest Column: The comeback of full-service agencies in India

By 2020, we will be close to a billion digitised screens. With the advent of cheaper data and smartphones and by virtue of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon entering the grassroots of India, digitisation has become inevitable. And it’s going to be mobile plus digitised television (...

Specials Year Enders

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories