Railway Budget 2013: UPA express slows at poll signal
Freight revenue is estimated to increase just 9% in 2013-14 as against this year’s 24%, while the gross traffic receipts (GTR) are set to rise 14%. So, over and above the recent hike in passenger fares, more differential pricing and segmentation could be expected in this segment. (One profit centre could be the new Anubhuti coaches in select trains.)
To his credit, Bansal, the first Congress minister to present a rail budget in 17 years, showed the resolve and tenacity to disentangle the pricing of the national transporter’s services and distribution of its investments from political considerations and favouritism. The new projects and 93 new trains he announced were spread out evenly, while Arunachal Pradesh is set to be connected to the country’s vast rail network. A proposal for setting up a Rail Tariff Authority, he said, was being formulated and discussed among ministries.
The freight revenue target based on a meagre 4% projected rise in loading, seems modest, especially since Bansal endorsed the policy of automatic fuel surcharge. Also, the GDP growth next year is not likely to be slower than this year’s estimated 5%. GTR for 2013-14 are estimated to be R1,43,742 crore, up 14% over the current year in which the GTR increase is seen at 21%. Ordinary working expenses for 2013-14 is estimated to grow at the same rate as the GTR, to R96,500 crore.
The operating ratio, which shows how much is left with the railways after meeting the ordinary operational expenses from its own revenue receipts,