Rail Budget 2015: Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday presented the Rail Budget 2015 sparing Indian passengers from any hike in train fares but refrained from introducing new trains on the ground that a review was on about the capacity to add more trains which will be announced afterwards.
Prabhu also made some changes in freight rates to rake in more money while ruling out privatisation. (Rail Budget: Top Points)
Against the backdrop of talk of privatisation of railways, the Minister said Railways will continue to be a precious national asset and people of India will own railways always. Presenting the first full-fledged Rail Budget 2015 of the Narendra Modi government, Prabhu made adjustments in freight rates that exempted salt but would hike rates on carriage of cement, coal and coke, iron or steel and petroleum products. (Also read: Suresh Prabhu’s White Paper)
The Minister did not project any figures that will accrue out of the adjustment in freight rates to be effective from April 1 this year. The hike in freight rates on cement, coal, foodgrain and pulses, urea, kerosene and LPG by up to 10 per cent to mop up an additional Rs 4,000 crore a year. While common salt has been left untouched, in the case of diesel and limestone there will be a marginal reduction in the freight adjustment done through re-classification of goods and distance rationalisation.
The Railway Minister announced that a new department for keeping cleanliness in railways would be created to promote the PM Narendra Modi cleanliness drive. He also announced a 24/7 railway helpline to be available on real time basis and to cut down the time taken to dispense tickets to five minutes.
“I have not increased passenger fares. We are directing our efforts to make travel on Indian railways a happy experience with a mix of various initiatives,” he said as he laid out 11 major thrust areas of railways in the coming financial year.
In the hour-long speech, Prabhu unveiled the thrust areas for the national carrier to become the prime mover of economy again, resource mobilisation for higher investments, decongestion of heavy routes and speeding up of trains, passenger amenities and safety.
Suresh Prabhu also announced the advance booking period for train tickets will be raised from 60 to 120 days. This is likely to benefit millions of railway passengers. The Railways had reduced the advance booking period from four months to two months effective May 1, 2013 in a bid to prevent touts to corner bulk tickets.
The speed of trains connecting major metro cities would be increased up to 200 kilometres per hour (kmph) on nine select railway corridors in a bid to reduce travel time, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced today. “The speed of nine railway corridors will be increased from the existing 110 and 130 km per hour to 160 and 200 kmph respectively so that inter-metro journeys like Delhi-Kolkata and Delhi-Mumbai can be completed overnight,” Prabhu said.
3 Suresh Prabhu mantras for Railways: Borrowing, PPP, asset monetisation
To drive Indian Railways out of its “troubles”, Union Minister Suresh Prabhu today prescribed market borrowings, public-private partnerships and monetising assets to garner Rs 8.5 lakh crore worth resources over the next five years, even as he ruled out “privatisation”.
Prabhu asserted he did not go for hike in passenger fares or using taxpayers’ money for development of projects. He also dismissed apprehensions that freight rate increase would have any major impact on prices of essential items. Prabhu, who did not announce any new trains during the Budget unlike his immediate predecessors, said fall in diesel prices was one of the major reasons for sparing passengers from any hike. During his maiden Budget speech and various interactions thereafter throughout the day, including a ‘talkathon’ that was telecast live on YouTube while fielding questions on Twitter, the Minister said Railways will monetise its assets, rather than selling them.
He expressed confidence that institutions like LIC from India and sovereign funds from abroad would provide long-term debt without insisting on early repayment of loan.
In a speech at Parliament that outlined the annual railway budget, Prabhu did not lower or raise passenger fares, which are heavily subsidised.
Indian railways will monetise its existing assets rather than selling them to raise funds, Suresh Prabhu said while presenting his budget for financial year 2015/16. The government has raised the planned outlay for the next financial year that begins in April by 52 per cent to 1.1 trillion rupees and will increase investment in its overloaded railway network to 8.5 trillion rupees ($137.32 billion) over the next five years and will modernise existing tracks and introduce faster trains.
Day after Rail Budget 2015: Economic Survey
12.20 PM: There is scope for big bang reforms now
12.218 PM: 2015/16 GDP growth seen at over 8 pct y/y
12.18 PM: Double digit economic growth trajectory now a possibility
12.15 PM: Econ growth at market prices seen between 8.1 – 8.5 per cent in 2015/16 on basis on new GDP calculation formula
12.12 PM: Lower inflation opens up space for more monetary policy easing
12.10 PM: Inflation shows declining trend in 2014/15
12.10 PM: Inflation likely to be below central bank target by 0.5 – 1 percentage point
10 AM: Economic Survey to be released today after its is tabled in Parliament around noon
9.15 AM: Sensex up over 180 pts in early trade ahead of Economic Survey
8.15 PM: Former Railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal today said that there was nothing new in the NDA government’s railway budget for 2015-16 and it was a repetition of what the UPA government presented in the past. “This budget doesn’t enthuse anyone, the expectations were very high. They (BJP govt) hasn’t lived up to those expectations,” Bansal.
8.00 PM: Noting that the new rail budget makes no provision either for survey of new tracks nor any announcement of new trains for Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Harish Rawat today said it has disappointed him not just as CM but also personally. “It is for the first time that the rail budget makes no provision for survey of new tracks or construction of rail lines in Uttarakhand. Nor does it make any announcement about new trains in the state.
7.45 PM: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today expressed mixed reaction to the rail budget as he hailed some decisions and expressed disappointment on others. “Due allocations have been made for our ongoing major projects like Khurda-Bolangir, where state government has committed to provide land free of cost and bear 50 per cent of the project cost,” Patnaik told reporters here.
7.30 PM: Congress today came down heavily on the Rail budget and alleged that the Railway Minister has not only “derailed” it but has “pulled a fast one” on the people by failing to lower fares despite downturn in global crude prices. “A trained Chartered Accountant has derailed the budget,” said party spokesman Rajiv Gowda, accusing Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu of jugglery, fudging the numbers and selling dreams without a concrete roadmap.
7.00 PM: Describing the rail budget as “extremely disappointing” for Uttarakhand, Congress today said the Hindu deities will never forgive the Railway Minister for neglecting the hill state also called “Devbhoomi”, the land of Gods.
6.30 PM: Unimpressed with the Railway budget presented in Parliament today, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said it was full of “lofty ideas but without any action plan.”
6.20 PM: Hailing the budget as a visionary initiative towards strengthening the national transport system, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the decision to involve states to make Railways backbone of national connectivity would usher in a new era of cooperative federalism in the country.
6.10 PM: Home Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated Suresh Prabhu for presenting a balanced and growth oriented budget for 2015-16. “By increasing investments to improve infrastructure and passenger amenities, the rail budget has pushed the Railways back on the right track,” he said.
6.00 PM: NDA constituent Shiv Sena claimed it lacked clarity on how the money will come for the various projects. “We are completely dissatisfied with the budget. They have said so many things in the budget. But from where will the money come?,” senior Shivsena leader and North-west Mumbai MP Gajanan Kirtikar said, adding the budget has kept everyone in “dark”.
5.40 PM: “The cost of production will go up in the range between Rs 7-10 per bag. This is a back of the envelope calculation,” said spokesperson of a leading cement firm.
5.30 PM: Terming the Railway budget as “realistic and pragmatic”, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu today rejected opposition criticism that it lacked substance and said NDA government has taken on its shoulders all the responsibility of implementing unfulfilled promises of earlier regimes.
5.20 PM: “The initiatives like larger role of the private sector in station upgradation, rolling stock and bulk transportation would go a long way in making the Railways efficient. Besides, enhancing train speed both for passenger and freight segment would bring in higher efficiency and improve ease of doing business,” Assocham President Rana Kapoor said.
5.00 PM: Samajwadi Party President Mulayam Singh Yadav today praised the railway budget for its lack of populist measures like announcement of new trains and lauded Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu for focusing on fulfilling projects unveiled in past budgets.
4.40 PM: Budget is for a 5 year action plan, starting with 1 year, said Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu at a CII meet
3.00 PM: Post rail budget, Suresh Prabhu addresses media at Rail Bhawan along with MoS for Rly and board members
3.02 PM: Discussed CCTV surveillance for women’s security and online booking of wheelchairs for senior citizens
3.02 PM: We have talked of CCTV surveillance for security of women, online booking of wheelchairs for senior citizens
3.05 PM: This Govt is a Govt of farmers and work for their welfare, we’ve laid emphasis on this: Prabhu
3.10 PM: Rail Budget 2015 is to better the railways, if the railways improve the nation will improve: Prabhu
1.25 PM: Rail Budget lays out a clear roadmap to make the Railways the key driver of India’s economic growth & playing a key role in India’s progress: PM Modi
1.23 PM: I am particularly delighted that for the 1st time there is a concrete vision for technology upgradation & modernisation of the Railways, tweets PM Narendra Modi
1.22 PM: Rail Budget 2015 is a watershed moment for Railways,marking a paradigm shift from discussing coaches & trains to comprehensive railway reform
1.20 PM: Rail Budget 2015 is a forward looking, futuristic & passenger centric budget, combining a clear vision & a definite plan to achieve it: PM Narendra Modi
Live Rail Budget 2015 HIGHLIGHTS
1.15 PM: Live Rail Budget 2015 concludes
1.12 PM: A mechanism for making regulations, setting performance standards and tariffs to be setup
1.10 PM: Corruption at all levels is affecting common man, we are working on solution to address this menace, says Rail Minister
1.09 PM: Rs 6,750 crore allocated for eliminating 3438 level crossings 970 road-underbridge, road-overbridge
1.10 PM: Skill development and self employment to be encouraged on Konkan Rly model
1.06 PM: 1000MV Solar plants to be set-up by developers on Rly/Pvt. Land and on Rly Building at own cost
1.06 PM: Rly to launch a coastal connectivity programme this year
1.05 PM: Digitized mapping of Rail land initiated to counter Encroachment
1.04 PM: Rly Plan size increased by 52%; 41.6% GBS; 17.8% internal generation
1.05 PM: We will monetize our assets rather than selling them, says Prabhu
1.05 PM: Railways proposes to move from preventive to predictive maintenance
1.03 PM: Railways to introduce technology portal to invite innovative solutions
1.02 PM: JV with major public sector companies for meeting requirements of new lines
1.00 PM: Decentralise, deregulate and delegate to make freight business simple, says Prabhu
1.00 PM: Wagon-making scheme to be reviewed to make it easier for private investment; Speed on nine To prevent fire in coaches,we’ll install train protection warning system and train collision avoiding system: Suresh Prabhu
12.58 PM: Safety is of paramount importance. Loss of human life is too heavy a price to pay: Suresh Prabhu
12.57 PM: Wagon-making scheme to be reviewed to make it easier for private investment; Speed on nine corridors to be increased from 110-130 to 160-200 kms per hour: Prabhu
12.56 PM: Feasibility report of high speed train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad expected by mid-2015: Prabhu #RailBudget2015
12.55 PM: Make in India opportunities – Speedier Railway – 9 hi-speed corridors, high speed trains: Suresh Prabhu
12.52 PM: The transformation of Railways have huge opportunities for ‘Make In India’ campaign: Suresh Prabhu
12.53 PM: Suresh Prabhu: For high-speed trains on other routes on the diamond quadrilateral studies being commissioned; Govt working on it
12.50 PM: The average speed of freight trains both in empty and filled condition will be enhanced:Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu
12.47 PM: TRANSLOC – new PSU – end to end logistics solution
12.47 PM: Full fledged university during 2015-15
12.46 PM: State of the art perishable cargo center under completion for farmers
12.46 PM: Railway connectivity for North Eastern State and J&K – ongoing process major thrust
12.46 PM: 1330% increase in railway electrification over previous year.
12.43 PM: Fast track highest priority works. Investment 84% higher; 77 new projects -Doubling, tripling/quadrupling/ electrification
12.45 PM: Open wi-fi to be available at 400 railway stations; proposal to revamp the station re-development scheme, says Suresh Prabhu
12.43 PM: More general class coaches to be added in identified trains; more AC EMU services for Mumbai suburban section
12.41 PM: Station to be redeveloped through simpler processes – faster redevelopment. Monitoring cell constituted
12.42: Satellite railway terminals in major cities – 10 select stations
12.40 PM: Suresh Prabhu: 67% more funds allotted for passenger amenities
12.39 PM: Train sets, saving 20% journey time within next 2 years
12.38 PM: Rail-cum-road ticket to be extended to many stations; more trains to be added under scheme for ordering food while booking tickets: Prabhu
12.35 PM: SMS alert on mobile, customer portal promoting digital India campaign – Rly display network
12.35 PM: Surveillance cameras on select mainline and ladies compartments
12.36 PM:Modern facilities for disabled citizens, senior citizens, patients through IRCTC
12.37 PM: 24 to 26 coaches in certain identified trains, more general class coaches, ladders to be replaced
12.35 PM: Railways to provide freedom to our valued passengers to choose their meals, e-catering has been introduce in 108 trains
12.35 PM: SMS alert service to inform about the upgraded arrival & departure timings
12.30 PM: Railways to introduce Operation 5 mins, wherein passengers travellling unreserved can purchase a ticket in 5 minutes: Prabhu
12.30 PM: A Mobile application to address complaints of people is also being developed: Prabhu
12.27 PM: All India 24 X 7 helpline 138 from 1/3/15 ; Toll free No.182 – for security complaints: Railway Minister
12.25 PM: Railways to partner with private sector, PSUs and multilateral funding institutions: Minister Suresh Prabhu
12.25 PM: 17000 more toilets to be replaced by Bio-Toilets
12.23 PM: No increase in Rail fares
12.22 PM: 5 Drivers to execute strategy of MR
12.22 PM: Railways to go through transformation in five years; to increase track capacity
12.20 PM: 4 Goals for transformation of Indian Railways
12.19 PM: These objectives will ensure Railway is an integral part of flagship programs launched by PM: Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu
12.18 PM: Good governance emerges out of participative governance – people’s involvement very high with railways
12.18 PM: Goal 1- Customer experience to receive a huge boost, Goal 2 – Safer Travel
12.17 PM: Railway Minister says Over the next 5yrs railways has to go through a transformation
12.16 PM: Suresh Prabhu says we must restore the strength of Bharatiya Railway as the backbone of India
12.15 PM: 492 section of IR -running at a capacity of more than 100%; 228 running between 80-100%
12.13 PM: Chronic underinvestment has led to poor development of Railways
12.12 PM: I thank PM barendra Modi for infusing all Indians with a sense of pride and dream of prosperous nation: Suresh Prabhu
12.10 PM: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu presents the Rail Budget 2015
12.00 PM: Suresh Prabhu to present the #RailBudget2015 in Parliament shortly
11.56 AM: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu at Parliament, to present Rail Budget 2015 shortly
11.55 AM: Suresh Prabhu expected to unravel his grand plans of how to decrease the cross-subsidy for passenger service from freight earnings
11.50 AM: Indian Railways stand to receive at least a 25 per cent boost in investment to over $9 billion, funded solely by falling fuel costs
11.45 AM: Venkaiah Naidu clarifies to Congress: I had no particular party in mind; “I had no intention to hurt anybody and had no party or individual in mind when I made the statement,” he said.
11.40 AM: The budget will set the direction of long and difficult road of reform: Suresh Prabhu said ahead of Budget presentation
11.35 AM: Lok Sabha adjourns second time for 15 minutes to 11. 45 AM following opposition protests over Venkaiah Naidu’s remarks
11.35 AM: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu arrives at Parliament
MR @sureshpprabhu has reached Parliament to present his maiden Rail Budget
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) February 26, 2015
11.25 AM: Budget accha hoga, janta ka budget hoga, says Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu
11.20 AM: Govt had earlier ruled out a reduction in fares in the context of lowering of diesel rate
11.10 AM: The Opposition says govt has insulted them and it will not allow the Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu to present Rail Budget 2015 unless an apology is tendered.
11.05 AM: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu leaves for Rail Bhavan ahead of Rail Budget 2015
11.00 AM: We cannot accomplish everything in a year, says Suresh Prabhu 10.55 AM: We have a long journey ahead, says Suresh Prabhu ahead of Rail Budget 10.15 AM: Following NDA government’s bullet train promise, Prabhu could announce the way forward for the ambitious high-speed train project
10.10 AM: In the first Rail Budget of the Narendra Modi government in July last, train fares were increased by 14.2 per cent
10.05 AM: In line with the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign, Rail Budget is likely to give special attention 10.00 AM: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to present Rail Budget 2015 at 12 noon today; less populist, more reforms on cards
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Outlining the budget estimates for the coming year, he proposed a plan outlay of Rs 1,00,011 crore, an increase of 52 per cent over revised estimate of 2014-15. Passenger earnings growth has been pegged at 16.7 per cent and earnings target budgeted at Rs 50,175 crore.
Goods earnings is accordingly proposed at Rs 1,21,423 crore, which includes rationalisation of rates, commodity classification and distance slabs.
Other coaching and sundries are projected at Rs 4612 crore and Rs 7318 crore. Gross traffic receipts are estimated at Rs 1,83,578 crore, a growth of 15.3 per cent.
Prabhu said over the next five years, Railways envisage an investment of Rs 8.5 lakh crore for which a broad indicative investment plan has been prepared.
“But the scale of investment needs is such that it will require us to seek multiple sources of funding. We will tap other sources of finance. Multilateral development banks and pension funds have expressed keen interest in financing new investments.
“They seek sources of predictable and recurring revenue, which we can provide through the issuance of long debt instruments to fund revenue-generating railway projects,” the Minister said.
The 11 thrust areas include cleanliness, new toilets covering 650 new stations, bio-toilets, national fashion technology to design bed linen, online disposal of bed rolls, and 24×7 helpline number for security related complaints.
An ‘Operation five minutes’ will be introduced for issuing unreserved tickets besides other initiatives like hot buttons, coin vending machines and concessional e-tickets for differently-abled passengers.
E-catering will be launched for select meals from an array of choices, ordering food through IRCTC websites at the time of booking tickets and integrating best food chains into the project.
PRE-RAIL BUDGET PRESENTATION
Indian Railways stand to receive at least a 25 per cent boost in investment to over $9 billion, funded solely by falling fuel costs, according to officials familiar with the railway budget. world’s fourth largest rail network could get even more if Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes it a priority, as China did during its rapid economic growth over the past two decades.
Ahead of Rail Budget presentation, the combined Opposition threatened to throw a spanner in the works of the Union government’s attempt to present the Rail Budget 2015. Speaking for the combined Opposition, Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge said that the Union govt had insulted them and that it will not allow the Railways minister Suresh Prabhu to present the Rail Budget 2015 unless an apology is tendered. He said the same treatment will be followed on Friday too.
Angering the Opposition on Wednesday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had said in Lok Sabha that the Ordinance was brought “in the need of emergency” as it was important to kick start the economy which was facing a “developmental holiday” in the last 10 years. The Opposition – Congress, CPI(M), TMC and AAP – staged a noisy walkout when the Minister claimed that the government does not want to bring Ordinances and accused Congress of having a bad track record on the issue of promulgating Ordinances as their governments had brought as many as 637 Ordinances in 62 years.
Targetting the Left parties and the Janta Parivar, Venkaiah Naidu added the United Front government had brought in 77 Ordinances. While staging the walkout, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge accused the Minister of “insulting” the opposition and assured him of a counter-attack when they have their say.
All eyes are focused on Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu whether he will hike train fares and freight rates as he presents the Rail Budget 2015 today at 12 noon. The Rail Budget is likely be devoid of major populist sops, as talks about raising resources by investing in infrastructure and giving shape to a host of ideas are being pushed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
For 10 years before 2012-13 there was no increase in rail fares. Then Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi had made an across-the-board hike in 2012-2013 but was made to roll back the hike in second and sleeper class categories.
Since then there have been hikes in passenger fares. In the first Railway budget of the Modi government in July last, fares were increased by 14.2 per cent and freight by 6.5 per cent. Though there is a decrease in diesel price, electricity cost has gone up by over four per cent making it a balancing act for the fuel adjustment cost (FAC)-lnked tariff revision policy adopted by railways since 2013.
Minister of State for Railway Manoj Sinha had earlier ruled out a reduction in fares in the context of lowering of diesel rates but Suresh Prabhu is expected to make a tight rope walk as he tries to bridge the huge gap in finances while presenting his maiden budget in the Lok Sabha.