Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi was in a rather poetic mood today, while he announced his maiden Railway Budget 2012 speech. Clearly, his main focus is to achieve safety, modernization, consolidation and decongestion & capacity augmentation in Indian Railways, in a bid to herald an era of generational change.
To start with, days before the Budget, the Indian Railways had dropped the bomb on the industry by hiking freight charges by up to 25% for most commodities including coal, food grains and fertilizers by reworking distance slabs, raising fresh fears of stoking inflation further.
Most of Indian railway infrastructure was built during the British rule in the country and has outlived its utility to say the least. India now needs complete up-gradation of railway’s communication system and infrastructure such as tracks, bridges, signals and rolling stocks.
Sam Pitroda has pegged the total expenses for railway modernization roadmap at Rs. 8 lakh crore, over the next 5 years. The big question – how will government arrange for such a huge sum, though gradually?
Expectedly, the Union Minister of Railways started off his budget speech by saying that he is not satisfied with the railway safety standards at the moment; and wants to target zero deaths due to railway accidents. In order to promote enhanced safety standards, the Minister has proposed to set up an independent safety authority functioning in line with international standards.
Key Highlights of the Railways Budget 2012:
1) Railways seek Rs.2.5 lakh crore as budgetary support from government.
2) A huge sum of Rs.14 lakh crore required in next 10 years.
3) Annual Plan Outlay for FY13 at Rs.60,100 crore.
4) Bring down Operating Ratio from 95% to 84.9% in FY13.
5) All level crossings to be eliminated in the next 5 years.
6) Modernization of 19000 km tracks over next 5 years.
7) Allocation of Rs.39110 crore to modernize signaling system.
8) Speed of passenger trains to increase to 160 km/hour.
9) Proposal for 725 km new lines and 800 km gauge conversion.
10) To develop 100 stations via PPP route in next 5 years.
11) Proposes 1100 km of railway lines to be electrified.
12) Installation of 321 escalators at important stations.
13) Book a meal, SMS facilities for e-tickets.
14) Introduction of alternate train accommodation for waitlisted passengers.
15) Disabled-friendly designed coaches with 2 attendants.
16) To introduce 75 new express trains, 21 passenger trains.
17) Proposed 137 services new sub-urban services in Mumbai, Chennai & Kolkata.
18) Platform ticket would now cost Rs.5.
19) Hike in Passenger fares:
- 2 paise/km for Suburban and Second class,
- 3 paise/km for Mail/Express Second class,
- 5 paise/km for Sleeper Class (SL),
- 10 paise/km for A/c Chair Car, A/C 3 Tier and First Class,
- 15 Paise/km for A/C 2 Tier and
- 30 Paise/km for A/c 1.
Do you feel Dinesh Trivedi will succeed in his ‘safety’ initiative for Indian Railways?