Indian Railways, the state-owned railway company of India overseen by ministry of Railways of the GOI, is one of the largest networks in the world with 64,099 route km under its purview, headed by Rail Minister Mamta Banerjee as of May 2009.
Interestingly, Mamta Didi has announced three Railways budgets before this one in her career in politics, this being fourth one. This is her second straight Railway Budget for the UPA in the Parliament today afternoon.
The honorable minister Mamta Banerjee was clear with her plans of inclusiveness to swiftly move towards PPP model but for her reservations towards privatization of Indian Railway. The minister shared her ‘Vision 2020’ document while ensuring that the Railway budget 2010 remains Populist, Passenger friendly and socially committed.
Highlights of Important Budget Announcements:
1) Vision 2020:
The Railway minister made promises about ‘Vision 2020’ document which will contain all the short, medium and long term goals. Indian Railways aims to add 25,000 route km by 2020. The railway currently has 64015 route km.
2) Freight Unchanged:
Fortunately, the freight rates were not tinkered with which would ensure that the prevailing high inflation does not find added pressure from transportation costs from Railways side. Freight loading target for 2010—11 fixed at 944 million tones.
3) Wagons Mania:
Railways to acquire 80, 000 new wagons. This step would benefit the likes of private companies like Titagarh Wagons and BEML who are primarily involved in manufacturing of Railway wagons.
4) PPP Model:
Mamta Didi called for public-private partnership in the railway sector and new business models for the railways. But she confirmed that privatization of Railways not on cards with a note towards Railway’s social responsibility.
5) Lowering Of Service Charge:
Service charge on AC fares cut to Rs.20.This step will help Railways in further bringing down the cost for high end passengers who vie for low cost airlines for their journeys. Service charge on sleeper class cut to Rs.10.
6) Dedicated Corridor:
Dedicated corridors to be implemented as per schedule. Implementation of dedicated corridor will ensure up gradation of technology, increase in productivity and reduction in transportation costs. A dedicated passenger corridor proposed called the Golden Rail Corridor project.
7) Passenger Amenities:
Railways to start six water bottling plants in places like Ambala, Thiruvananthapuram, Farakka, Amethi and Nasik to provide clean and cheap drinking water to passengers. Mamta Banerjee said that Rs.1302 crore would be spent for the safety of the passengers.
8) Removal of Red-Tapism:
Private investment clearance in 100 days would ensure that the delay time in implementation of projects gets cut-out. This will encourage potential investors from the ill-effects of red-tapism with the setting up of special task force for the said matter.
9) The Greener Way:
New coach factories specialized in making coaches with refrigeration facilities to carry agriculture produce. Thus it would give a boost to shelf life for agricultural products and help in bringing down damage to food products.
10) Sporting Offer:
Special trains for Commonwealth Games 2010 would ensure that the tourists can move with ease from one destination to another during the games. Tourist trains to be started on 16 routes which will be more helpful for tourists in laying their journey schedule along with tourist destinations.
Ticket centers at district headquarters and village panchayats. E-ticketing mobile vans at hospitals and educational universities like IITs & IIMs. This step would ensure convenient booking of tickets and provide necessary infrastructure needed to purpose of e-ticketing.
12) Deeper Thought:
Mamta Banerjee promises 1, 000 km of new railway lines in one year thus enhancing the scope of Indian railways even deeper in to the India and more nearer to the passengers.
13) Duronto Express:
Encouraged by the success of the non-stop Duronto express trains introduced last year, the ministry announced 10 more Duranto trains in this budget. The satisfactory occupancy levels on the Durantos led by good service and less travelling time was the pick of the season.
14) Increased Revenues:
Rail minister Mamata Banerjee said that Railways expects to increase earnings from non core activities. Railways saved Rs.2, 000 crore from austerity drive.
15) Personnel Satisfaction:
Railway Protection Force to be strengthened through amendments in RPF Act; women’s wing to be formed in RPF to ensure security of women. Ex-servicemen to be inducted in RPF.
What’s In For Passengers?
- No hikes in Passenger fares
- Launch of 10 new Duronto trains
- Special train named ‘Bharat Tirth’ to connect Himachal to Kanya Kumari.
- Introduction of ladies special train in the name of Matribhumi.
- Kolkata Metro to be extended inside the city.
- To launch new Tourist trains on 16 routes.
- Launch of 54 new trains and double-decker trains.
- Free travel for Cancer patients in AC3 coach.
Are you satisfied with Mamta Banerjee’s populist Railway Budget 2010?