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Railway Budget Update: Railway Budget 2010-11
February 25, 2010


Railway Budget Update: Railway Budget 2010-11


http://www.hospitalitybizindia.com/detailNews.aspx?aid=7541&sid=6

25 February 2010


Dheera Majumder, Mumbai:

The Railway Budget 2010-11 announced by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee highlighted that social responsibility comes over commercial viability. With this view in mind, the government has proposed introduction of several new rail lines. Banerjee stated that there will be no increase in the passenger fares of any class or category of trains. Freight tariffs will also remain the same for 2010-11. Service charges for e-tickets and freight charges for food-grains will be reduced. She also proposed 52 new train services to meet increasing demand of passengers, increase in frequency of 12 train services, extension of 21 trains and introduction of some special trains. Bharat Tirth Trains for tourists connecting popular sites in different parts of the country will be introduced during the year. She also proposed four new Duronto trains between Chandigarh and Amritsar, between Chennai and Coimbatore, between Puri and Howrah and between Howrah and Digha.

Banerjee has proposed Rs 41,426 crore, the highest ever plan investment to provide efficient, customer focused and modern railway network. Out of this allocation, Rs 4,411 crore has been proposed to achieve the target of 1,000 kms for new lines and Rs 1,302 crore for passenger amenities. The plan would be financed through gross budgetary support of Rs 15,875 crore, diesel cess of Rs 877 crore, internal resources of Rs 14,523 crore and EBR of Rs 10,151 crore including market borrowing through Indian Railways Finance Corporation Ltd (IRFC) of Rs 9,120 crore.

The Budget speech also stated the launch of special train services; Sanskriti Express to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. It will set up Rabindra Museum at Howrah and Gitanjali Museum at Bolpur. Indian Railways will be the lead partner for Commonwealth Games 2010 and will run special trains for the same. The government will also introduce a new rail route between the India and Bangladesh. The proposed route between the two countries will link Akhaura in Bangladesh and Agartala in India.

SMS updates of reservation status and movements of wagons to freight customers are being initiated. Double-decker train-sets matching the best in global standards will be introduced in two trains each from Delhi and Kolkata as a pilot project. Mobile vans for issuing e-tickets will be extended to government medical college hospitals, high courts, district court, university campus, IT hubs, IITs and IIMs. Railway reservation ticket centres will also be opened at district headquarters and village panchayats.

The Minister also announced reduction of service charges maximum to Rs 10 for sleeper class and Rs 20 for AC Class. She also announced 100 per cent concession for cancer patients going for treatment together with an escort in AC III Class.

Banerjee announced that out of 120 new trains, extensions and increase in frequencies announced in last budget, 117 trains will be flagged off by the end of 2010. The Catering Policy is under revision to provide better food, six bottling plants to be set up to provide clean drinking water. Also, 94 new stations will be developed as Adarsh Stations and ten more stations will be upgraded as World Class Stations. She announced construction of 93 multi-functional complexes and to develop multi-level parking complex through Public Private Partnership (PPP) route.

Banerjee said that the target has been set to add 25,000 km of new lines in next ten years. A Special Task Force to clear proposals for investments within 100 days will be set up; policy guidelines will be made easy, simple and investment friendly so that business community can join hands to build partnership with the Railways. But the Minister clarified that that Railway will not opt for privatisation, it will remain a government organisation. Up gradation and modernisation of Kolkata Metro is also on the charts.

In order to bring more transparency in freight business, the Railway Minister announced RFID technology will be introduced for tracking of wagons, allotment of the rakes would be accessible through the web. In order to promote industrial activity, Banerjee said that Railways will welcome investment through PPP mode for providing rail connectivity to important ports. Additional 2,000 kms routes will be electrified within two years. Work on adding another 12,000 kms in existing Optical Fibre Cable network of the Railways is in progress. The balance 15,000 kms is proposed to be taken through PPP mode, thus covering entire railway network.

Indian Railways is also working on high speed passenger rail corridors. A National High Speed Rail Authority will be set up for planning, standard setting and implementing these projects.