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Rail Budget 2013: No direct passenger fare hike; 67 new express trains
According to the Rail Budget 2013, there will be no direct hike in passenger fares, however, the budget shocked travelers by increasing reservation fee, cancellation charges and tatkal ticket rates.

Passengers have to also shell out more from their tickets if they wish to travel via super fast express, as the government has increased supplementary charges.

Union railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal announced that the freight charges will be increased by 5% with effect from 01 April 2013. Due to the proposed hike in freight charges, the benchmark index BSE tumbled by 235 points. Nifty also fell by 70 points. The increase in freight charges will increase burden on the corporate earnings.

Presenting his maiden rail budget, which is also the first by any Congress minister after seventeen years, Bansal announced that by the end of the calendar year 2013 a next generation e-ticketing system will be in place, which will enable IRCTC website to issue 7, 200 tickets per minute from the current 2000 tickets. The minister announced that the present Internet ticketing timing will be extended to 11.30 pm from 12.30 am. He said that a system will be developed to provide SMS alert to the passengers about the status of their reserved tickets.

The railways minister has announced 67 new express trains and 27 new passenger trains along with introducing eight DEMUs and five EMUs. He also proposed extension of as many as 57 trains and increasing the frequency of 24 trains.

Some of the express trains include weekly Hazrat Nizamuddin-Mumbai AC Express via Bhopal, Khandwa and Bhusawal, Bikaner-Chennai AC Express, weekly Puri-Ajmer Express, weekly Puri-Sai Nagar Shirdi Express, Ahmedabad-Jodhpur express, a similar venture between Bandra and Haridwar, and Bandra and Jaisalmer, weekly Yesvantpur-Lucknow Express via Rae Bareli and Pratapgarh.

Taking care of the religious sentiments of the people, government announced many initiatives like the one to provide greater connectivity to Vaishno Devi in Jammu. A New Delhi-Katra AC Express is being introduced, which would run six days a week.

In a bid to provide hygienic atmosphere to the commuters inside the trains, the government has announced extension of On Board Housekeeping Scheme and Clean Train Stations to more stations and trains. The railways will also launch pilot project on select trains to facilitate passengers to contact on board staff through SMS/phone call/e-mail for coach cleanliness and real time feedback.

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