New Delhi — Presenting a railway budget can be tedious--for the minister reading out the voluminous document put together months in advance as a roadmap to improving the country’s 162-year-old lifeline--and for the ones listening to him in Parliament. But newbie rail minister Suresh Prabhu kept his audience entertained with a speech peppered with poetry and pun.
At the start of his budget speech today Prabhu punned on his name and had the gallery tittering.
"Our priority is to improve the capacity in the high density section. One of the first things I asked, 'hey prabhu' how will all this be possible," he said.
"Prabhu (God) didn't answer, so this Prabhu thought, why can't we do something?"
Prabhu, apparently an avid reader of poetry, used a Hindi phrase to explain his vision for the Indian railways.
"Kuch naya jodna hoga, kuch purana todna hoga, kuch engine badalne honge, kuch repair karne honge," NDTV quoted Prabhu as saying.
The quote roughly translates to: We have to add some things, we have to be rid of some things, change some engines and fix some engines.
In his maiden speech, Prabhu kept passenger fares unchanged and announced a slew of measures including nine more high-speed trains, faster speed of existing trains, Wi-Fi in 400 stations, user-friendly ladders to mount upper berths, easier norms for unreserved tickets, 17,000 bio-toilets in trains, better connectivity in north-east, and cameras for safety of women travellers, IANS reported.
Announcing stairs to the upper berth, Prabhu quipped that the middle berth would be "reserved for women and old people like me."
He announced a high speed corridor between Delhi and Kolkata and added - "so that my friends from West Bengal can travel faster."