Shying away from populism, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has refrained from reducing passenger fares or announcing new projects in his interim budget for 2014-15, which was presented in Parliamenty. It comes against falling revenues, primarily due to lower passenger earnings and higher costs. Kharge’s speech focussed on the achievements of the Railways during the five years of UPA-II.
17 new premium trains, 38 express trains and 10 passenger trains have been announced in the rail budget. Shillong will be connected to the rest of the country by starting a new rail line.
Highlights of interim Rail Budget 2014-15
Here are some highlights of the Interim Railway Budget 2014-15
1. No change in passenger fares and freight charges
2. 72 new trains introduced: These include 17 premium trains, 38 express trains and 10 passenger trains
3. Gross traffic receipts target at Rs.1,60,775 crore, with passenger earnings of Rs.45,255 crore, goods traffic earnings Rs.1,05,770 crore and other earnings Rs.9,700 crore
4. 19 new railway lines to be taken up for survey. Surveys for doubling five existing lines will also be taken up during the year.
5. Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh to be brought on the railway map of the country
6. Independent Rail Tariff Authority set up to advise on fares and freight
7. Gross traffic receipts pegged at Rs.1,60,775 crore; Working expenses at Rs.1,10,649 crore; Freight earnings set at Rs.94,000 crore.
8. Services on Udhampur-Katra line to start soon. It will take passengers to the foothills of Vaishno Devi shrine
9. Permitting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in railways is under consideration.
10. Three new factories - Rail Wheel Plant in Chhapra, Bihar, Rail Coach Factory at Rae Bareli and Diesel Component Factory at Dankuni, West Bengal have started production during 2013-14 -
11. Operating ratio targetted at 89.8 %.
12. On certain premium AC trains, passenger fares to chanage as per demand and supply on the lines of air travel
13. More escalators to be installed at railway stations.
14. No railway crossings to be unmanned in future