Railway Budget 2016 – 2017 : List of Announcements is Expected to Make Tomorrow
In the period from April last year to January 2016, the Indian Railways earned Rs 1,36,079.26 crore against the estimated target of 1,41,416.05 crore, a gap of 3.75%.
In 2014, in the railway budget presented by the NDA government, a 14% hike in passenger fares was announced across the board, while a 10% hike was announced in 2015.
This year, Indian Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu is expected to present aRs 1.25 lakh crore budget.
Where will this money come from?: Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) from the Finance Ministry is unlikely to meet the railways’ expectation, which means funding of projects will be mostly from External Budgetary Resources (EBR).
It appears that Prabhu will have to depend mostly on the EBR for the execution of capacity augmentation projects, and he will give details of his resource mobilisation plan in the rail Budget 2016-17.
Where will this money go: Safety upgradation, electrification, doubling and modernisation of yards to clear traffic bottlenecks are expected to be the main focus areas.
What about passenger fares? The verdict on this is still divided. While industry body Assocham says that the Railway Minister should take a political stand and hike prices, which will give a much-needed boost to the ailing railway sector and also help in infrastructure upgradation, officials within the rail ministry says that Prabhu should think twice before hiking passenger fares given that four state assembly elections are around the corner.
New trains this year?: For a second year running, Prabhu is not likely to launch any new services. However, new services to meet local demands and needs may see the light of day.
AC locals for Mumbai yet? In the suburban section, the Rail Budget will announce the introduction of AC suburban trains in Mumbai, which will be replicated in other areas as well. The fare of AC suburban service will be higher than the regular local train.
Swachch Railways Abhiyaan: Prabhu will give details about the concerted efforts being undertaken by the Railways to keep stations and trains clean and environment-friendly.
Continuing with ‘Swachh Bharat’ drive, he is also likely to announce plans for the installation of bio-toilets and vacuum toilets in as many trains and placing dustbins in every coach.
According to sources, since Swachh cess is imposed on railways, there is a likelyhood of getting a portion of Swachh fund for carry out cleaning exercise at rail premises.
All 400 stations being planned to be developed with private participation are likely to be announced as “green stations” with several environment-friendly measures like the generation of solar energy, recycling of water, conversion of waste to energy and use of LED lights to be incorporated in the plan.
What about cargo?: Aiming at shifting goods from road to rail, the budget will offer various schemes to attract loadings. A scheme for premium high-speed parcel trains is slated to be unveiled in the budget.
The introduction of dual-mode engine to enable the train to run both on diesel and electricity is likely to be announced in the budget.