In the last five years after the Railway Budget was merged with the General Budget in the year 2016, over 800 new trains were introduced across the Indian Railways network and the practice of one-time announcement of trains was ended by the national transporter, an RTI reply has revealed.
The Railway Board in its RTI reply to a query made by Madhya Pradesh based Chandra Shekhar Gaur said no new trains were introduced in the financial year 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic which led to the suspension of all existing passenger train services. While the Railway Ministry did not launch any new trains during the Covid-hit 2020-21, it brought in as many as 144 new train services in 2019-20, 266 services in 2018-2019, 170 services in 2017-2018 and 223 services in 2016-2017, a PTI report said.
While presenting the Railway Budget in fiscal 2015-16, Union Minister Suresh Prabhu did not announce a single new train or extension of train services. However, Prabhu’s predecessor, D V Sadananda Gowda, who presented the budget for the financial year 2014-15, had announced five new ‘Jansadharan’ trains, five premium trains and six air-conditioned trains, 27 new express trains, eight new passenger services, five DEMU services as well as two MEMU services.
A railway official was quoted in the report saying the announcement of new train services was often done for political reasons. Nowadays, according to him, things have been rationalized and the announcement of new trains will be made when and where there is a need for them.