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Indian Railway Budget


Railway Budget Highlights 2016-17

Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu announced his second railway budget in the Parliament on 25 February 2016. This year's budget is focused more on completion of ongoing projects than launching of new ones. Train fares have been kept unchanged this time as well. Prabhu indicated that the railway budget this year will give utmost priority to customer satisfaction as the customer is the best brand ambassador of Indian Railways. “The Ministry's core objective is to make the railways an engine of employment generation and economic growth at national level”, Suresh Prabhu said.

Some of the key achievements of the Railway Ministry in the past one year, as declared by Suresh Prabhu, are as follows:

  • Action already initiated on 139 budget announcements made last year
  • Nearly 1,000 stations been developed as 'Adarsh' stations with facilities like toilets, drinking water, catering services and waiting rooms.
  • Process of recruiting railway employees has been made online to bring complete transparency
  • Around 1,780 automated ticket-vending machines put in place
  • Safety record has bettered this year with 20% less accidents than last fiscal year.
  • 350 manned level crossings closed; 1,000 unmanned level crossings eliminated
  • CCTV network in 311 railway stations already in place
  • Wi-Fi at 100 stations
  • Revamped internal audit system for efficiency in working practices

This year's budget gives due importance to passenger satisfaction. There is hike in seat quota for senior citizens and women. The minister discussed provisions for passenger amenities and entertainment on board. The IRCTC will manage catering to provide hygienic food and local cuisine of choice. There will be provision for cleaning of toilets by requests through SMS. Multi-purpose stalls will be set up at stations to provide utility services like milk and medicines. Children's menu and baby foods will be made available for travelling mothers. Passengers will now be able to get their tickets cancelled through 139 helpline number. The minister also said that Sarthi Seva had been introduced in Konkan Railways to help senior citizens and that this service will be expanded soon.

Strengthening the railway's infrastructure and financial state are two important considerations in this year's budget. The Ministry is looking to generate revenues from advertising in major stations. LIC has agreed invest Rs. 1.5 lakh crore on highly favourable terms over a span of five years. Two dedicated freight corridors will get completed by 2019. Besides, drones and satellites will be deployed to review the progress of ongoing projects, the Minister said.

Some of the measures undertaken by the railway ministry to boost the railway infrastructure are as follows:

  • About 1,600 km of electrification this year and 2,000 km more the next year
  • Commissioning of 2,800 km of new tracks next year
  • New factories to be set up, bids finalised for setting up two locomotive factories
  • Railways to cross its target of commissioning 2500 km of broad gauge lines, almost 30% higher than last year

The railways will be promoted as a medium to strengthen cooperative federalism through various projects. It will partner with the governments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to develop suburban network rail network. A Ring Railway is proposed to be redeveloped in partnership with the Delhi government. Suresh Prabhu said that his ministry has received in-principle approval from 17 states to form joint ventures. The long-awaited Broad Gauge Lumding-Silchar section in Assam, which connects Barak Valley with the rest of country, has been opened. North-East states, especially Mizoram and Manipur, will be connected through broad gauge soon.

Other plans proposed by the budget:
  • Coolies to be called sahayaks and trained in soft skills
  • Skilling of front-end staff who are employed through service providers
  • Bar-coded tickets to curb ticketless travel
  • Overnight double-decker trains on business travel routes
  • Long-distance super-fast trains for unreserved passengers

The Railways will also undertake initiatives for the cause of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan and Start-up India. It proposes to provide 17,000 bio-toilets and additional toilets by the end of this fiscal. It will allocate Rs. 50 crore to provide innovation grants to start-ups.

About Railway Budget

The Ministry of Railways presents the railway budget in Parliament every year few days before the introduction of the Union Budget of India on the last working day of February. According to Article 112 and Rule 204 of the India Constitution, the budget is to be presented in two parts, namely the Railways Budget and the General Budget of India. The Railway Budget is the 'Annual Financial Statement' of the Indian Railways which manages rail transport in the country and which also happens to be the country's largest employer.

A separate budget for the railways was started way back in 1924 during the British rule under the recommendation of the Acworth Committee. This committee was headed by British railway economist William Acworth. A separate budget was necessitated because the railways was considered an important asset at that time. However, as the Indian economy grew exponentially over the decades, the railway budget seemed smaller in size and proportion than the main budget. Nonetheless, the government has opted to continue with the practice of a separate budget for the Railways.

Facts About Railway Budget

  • The first ever live telecast of the Railway budget was aired on 24 March 1994.
  • Lalu Prasad Yadav has presented the Rail Budget for six times in a row.
  • In 2002, Mamata Banerjee became the first woman Minister of Railways to present the Rail Budget. She is also the only woman to present the railway budget for two different central governments (the National Democratic Alliance and the United Progressive Alliance).

Railway Budget Highlights 2015-16

BJP/ Modi Government's Goals for Railway Budget 2015-16

Suresh Prabhu presented the Railway Budget 2015-16 on 26th February 2015, which is the first full budget of the BJP/ Modi Government.
Goal1: Increase connectivity
  • Focus on better network and high speed trains
  • We cannot deliver everything in 1 year
Goal2: Safety
  • Make railways a safer travel
Goal3: Modernize its infrastructure
  • Capacity improvement main focus : 12 million to 30 million
  • Increase in track lengths by a few kilometers
Goal 4: Financial Sustainability
  • Banks and pension funds are keen to invest in Railways
Goal5: Setting standards of governance and transparency
  • 8.5 lakh crore investement

11 major Thrust areas of action plan of Prabhu's Railway Budget 2015-16:

customer services:
  1. No increase in passenger fare.
  2. Cleanliness utmost priority with the slogan being "Swachh Rail, Swachh Bharat". New department for cleanliness of stations and trains.
  3. 17,000 old toilets to be replaced by bio toilets
  4. 138 - 24x7 All India helpline number for customers to be activated

Ticketing:
  1. provison to be made to ensure that passenger travelling without ticket can purchase it in 5 mins through an online portal or app.
  2. system to purchase ticket after one time registration.
  3. Integrated ticketing to be expanded on routes.
  4. smart cards and other payment systems to be implemented.
  5. Food can be ordered via IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) while booking tickets. Working with many canteens
  6. Set up base kitchen on the identified locations to serve high quality food
  7. availability of clean drinking water to people at nominal cost at all stations

  8. extending facility of sms on mobile to use as travel ticket
  9. single portal with simplest navigation
  10. sms alerts to inform about train timings
  11. surveillance cameras for women security
  12. mobile phone charging facility in general coaches with increase in number of points
  13. free wifi to all category A and B stations
  14. Online booking of wheel chairs for senior citizens
  15. Advance booking days to increase to 180 days
  16. allotment for passenger amenities to increase by 67%
  17. Revamping stations in terms of cleanliness, wider tracks etc
  18. Existing Redevelopment of stations for which work is in process will continue and for the remaining stations the design proposal for revamp will be invited and bidding will be done
  19. Satellite railway terminals in all major cities. 10 select stations to be picked up for this

Improve connectivity
  1. Negotiations on for funding of new projects
  2. Enhance connectivity to North Eastern states
  3. surveys for 4 more freight corridors to be done this year
  4. 2 dedicated freight corridor projects gathering pace
  5. freight handling capacity to be increased
  6. multimodal transport across India

  7. Liberalise various freight schemes
  8. Review of wagon leasing and other schemes
  9. More high speed rails. Feasibility study is in process
  10. speed to increase from 160 to 400 km/h.

Safety
  1. Condolences to families of all those who have been killed in accidents
  2. Plan for unmanned crossings.
  3. AV warnings at all unmanned stations
  4. 3430 unmanned crossings to be removed
  5. Train protection warning and train collision avoiding systems to be installed at the earliest.

Technology Innovation
  1. Setup innovation council with 4 research centers
  2. Technology portal to setup to invite innovative solutions
  3. Integrated mobile system to be made available
  4. Barcoded, RFID tracking of parcels and freight
  5. Preventive to proactive:

Revamp PPP cell in ministry to make it more result oriented
  1. Participative model to be made more efficient
  2. technology intensive and new projects for ports and mines

Human resource strategy
  1. Develop HRD with global standards
  2. repair of staff quarters
  3. improved delivery of health services to employees
  4. full fledged university for staff
  5. 4 holiday homes for the staff

Energy and sustainability
  1. Focus on environment management
  2. solar plans to be setup
  3. water conservation plants to setup at major water system
  4. water harvesting to be extended
  5. New solar plants on anvil
  6. Power tariff deals to be renegotiated
  7. fire alert system in trains

Transparency and government initiative
  1. system of online application for 2 recruitment projects
  2. tap on corruption
  3. e-procurement value chain to be expanded to all divisions
  4. mechanism to setup performance standards
  5. encourage self employment : launch program to sell handmade products by the people specially women
  6. To begin Incredible rail for Incredible India
  7. Kisan yatra: Special financial scheme for training farmers

Last Updated on : February 25, 2016