NEW DELHI: The Railway Budget for 2016-17 on Thursday spared passengers and goods movement from any increase in tariffs, while it announced introduction of three new superfast trains and creation of dedicated north-south, east-west and east coast freight corridors by 2019.
Presenting his second budget in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu promised rationalising of the tariff structure by undertaking a review to evolve competitive rates vis-a-vis other modes of transport and to expand the freight basket as a means of additional revenue mobilisation.
Unlike last year when he tweaked freight rates, Prabhu made no changes either in passenger fares or freight rates.
The three new superfast trains announced by him include ‘Humsafar’ which will be a fully air-conditioned 3AC service with option of meals. ‘Tejas’ will showcase the future of train travel in India with speeds up to 130 km per hour and on board services, such as entertainment, local cuisine and WiFi.
The two trains will ensure cost recovery through tariff and non-tariff measures, while the ‘Uday’ will be an overnight double-decker along with the ‘Utkrishit’ double-decker air-conditioned yatri express on the busiest routes. For improving quality of travel for unreserved passenger, a superfast ‘Antyodya’ express service would be introduced.
‘Deen Dayalu’ unreserved coaches with portable water and higher number of mobile charging points would also be introduced.
He also announced the setting up of a Rail Development Authority to enable fair pricing of services, promote competition, protect customer interest and determine efficiency standards. The Draft Bill in this regard will be ready after holding extensive stakeholder consultations. Outlining the budget estimates for the coming year, the Minister put the plan size at Rs 1.21 lakh crore.
The focus will be on capital expenditure with a mix of various sources of funding in order to ensure the projects are given assured funding.
Gross traffic receipts for the coming fiscal have been fixed at Rs 1.84 lakh crore with passenger earning growth pegged at 12.4 per cent and earning target budgeted at Rs 51,012 crore.
The freight traffic is pegged at an incremental tariff of 50 million tons, anticipating a healthier growth in the core sector of the economy.
Goods earning is accordingly proposed at Rs 1.17 lakh crore. Earnings on account of other coaching and sundries have been projected at Rs 6,185 crore and Rs 9,590 crore, respectively.
Pension outgo has been budgeted at Rs 45,500 crore in the coming year. Revenue generation has been targeted at Rs 1.84 lakh crore.
Financial performance for the current year has reflected a savings of Rs 8,720 crore, neutralising most of the revenue shortfall.
Operating ratio has been targeted at 92 per cent for the coming year as against 90 per cent in 2015-16, restricting the growth of ordinary expenses by 11.16 per cent after building in impact of 7th Pay Commission recommendation, planned reduction in diesel and electricity consumption.
The three new freight corridors of North-South will connect Delhi and Chennai, East-West connecting Kharagpur to Mumbai and East Coast from Kharagpur to Vijawada.
“It is proposed to put these three projects on high priority to ensure structuring, award and implementation in a time-bound manner through innovative financing schemes, including PPP,” Prabhu said in his more than hour-long speech. Before the current financial year ends on March 31, almost all contracts for civil engineering work would be awarded.
Contracts worth Rs 24,000 crore have been awarded since he assumed office against Rs 13,000 crore worth of contracts in the last six years.
Presenting his second budget, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday unveiled pillars of strategy that would reflect the new thought process for the railways. Here are the highlights of the Rail Budget 2016
- No hike in passenger fares.
- Action has been initiated on 139 budget announcements made last year.
- Eliminate all unmanned level crossings by 2020.
- Swacch Bharat: 17000 biotoilets and additional toilets in 475 stations before the close of this financial year.
- Increased quota for senior citizens and women travellers this year.
- Wifi at 100 stations this year and 400 stations next year.
- Enhanced capacity of e-ticketing system from 2,000 tickets/min to 7,200/min. Supporting 1.2 lakh concurrent users now, as opposed to 40,000 earlier.
- All major stations to be brought under CCTV surveillance in a phased manner.
- Deen Dayal coaches for long distance trains for unreserved passengers. These coaches will include potable water and higher number of mobile charging points.
- IRCTC to manage catering service in phased manner. Local cuisine of choice will be made available to passengers.
- Cleaning of toilets by requests through SMS.
- Children’s menu, baby foods, baby boards to be made available for travelling mothers.
GPS-based digital display in coaches for showing upcoming stations.
- Will open cancellation facility through 139 helpline n umber.
- Introduce bar-coded tickets on pilot basis to tackle menace of ticketless travel.
- Overnight double-decker trains to be introduced on business travel routes.
- 1,600 km of electrification this year and 2,000 km proposed for the next year.
- Broad Gauge Lumding-Silchar section in Assam, connecting Barak Valley with rest of country.
- North-East India, especially Mizoram and Manipur, to be connected through broad gauge soon.
- Special purpose vehicle for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high speed corridor registered this month.