“These are challenging times,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said as he introduced his budget for the financial year 2016-2017.
Prabhu announced a number of new initiatives be it in railway infrastructure, passenger amenities or measures to revive its finances by going digital.
What comes as a relief to commuters is that the Railway Minister has not announced a hike in passenger fares. He also announced several new trains with a focus on improving passenger facilities.
Senior citizens have a reason to rejoice as Prabhu has announced that the quota reserved for that category will be increased by 50%.
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Here are the highlights from Prabhu’s speech. Click here to read it in Hindi.
Suresh Prabhu has concluded his speech
* Tejas Express – premium superfast with many onboard facilities such as entertainment, better aesthetics, vending machies, ushers
* Launch of Humsafar Express – Full 3AC, fast train with optional food services
* Launch of Rail Mitra Sewa – Comprehensive concierge services including battery operated cars, porter services, wheel chairs, etc
* Target to commission 1000 MW of solar power
* Will evolve models to determine revenue potential of at least 20 stations in next 3 months
In the last year we have seen lot of success and this budget is an effort to further improve on this: PM on #RailBudget2016
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 25, 2016
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 25, 2016
* Aim to generate 10-20% of Revenues from non-tariff sources over next 5 years by monetising assets
* E-catering services will be increased from 40 stations now to over 400 stations
* Rs. 50 crore earmarked for innovation grants to start ups
* Will lease out huge tracts of land available adjacent to our rail network to promote horticulture and tree plantation
* Will evolve models to determine the revenue potential of at least 20 stations in the next three months. In all, we target to increase the advertising revenues by more than four times the current revenue.
* Will partner with Gujarat, Telangana and Tamil Nadu for developing suburban systems in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Chennai by innovative financing mechanism
* Appeal to all state governments to stagger office timings to ease peak traffic load on suburban train services
* Will partner with state govts for comprehensive suburban system in the technology hub of Bengaluru. Similar structures and financing mechanisms will be created for Thiruvananthapuram
* Overnight double-decker “Uday” Express to be introduced on busiest routes
* Coolies will now be called sahayaks, says Suresh Prabhu. Read our story here.
* We propose to invite FM radio stations to provide train borne entertainment via PA systems
* To help mothers, baby foods, hot milk and hot water will be made available on stations
* We will introduce separate toilets for divyaang/handicapped people
* We intend to take up on priority the provision of passenger amenities and beautification on stations at pilgrimage centres including Ajmer, Amritsar, Bihar Sharif, Chengannur, Dwarka, Gaya, Haridwar, Mathura, Nagapattinam, Nanded, Nasik, Pali, Parasnath, Puri, Tirupati, Vailankanni, Varanasai and Vasco
* Work underway on the installation of a high-tech centralised network of 20,000 screens across 2000 stations know as rail display network to enable time flow of information to passengers
* North-West, East-West and East Coast to get dedicated freight corridor
* We will reimagine design and layout of coaches for increased passenger comfort
* E-booking of tickets facility on concessional basis to be made available for journalists
* Clean My Coach service through SMS will now be on Pan-India basis.
* Ranking of A1 and A stations based on periodic third party audit and passenger feedback
* Major stations to be brought under CCTV surveillance
* IRTC will begin to manage catering in a phased manner, local cuisine of choice will be made available
* We will add two to four Deen Dayalu coaches in some long distance trains for unreserved travel with facility for potable drinking water and a higher number of mobile charging points
* We will introduce Antyodaya Express, a long distance fully unreserved, superfast train servce for the common man to be operated on dense routes
* We have identified the national academy of Indian railways at Vadodara as the first institution which will be upgraded to a full-fledged rail university
* In 2105-16 we have closed 350 manned level crossings and eliminated 1000 unmanned level crossings. 820 ROB/RUB have been completed in the current year and work is going on in 1350 of them
* Walls of many stations have been converted to murals, also contributing to social awareness
* Social media is being used as a tool for transparency; all procurement by Railways will be on e-platform
* Increased quota of lower berths in the coming financial year. We are also increasing the senior citizen quota per coach by 50% resulting in almost 120 lower berths per train for senior citizens
* 17,000 biotoilets and additional toilets in 475 stations before close of this FY
* We intend to switch over to paperless contract management system where bids will be invited online and tender will be awarded electronically
* Decongestion work on Jalandhar-Jammu line in full swing. Doubling of two bridges to be commissioned by March 2016.
* We have finalised bids for two loco factories with an order book of about Rs 40,000 cr. These factories will create an ecosystem of many flourisghin SMEs connected to global supply
* 44 new projects of 5300 km valuing Rs 92714 crore will be launched
* Expect revenue growth of over 10% this year
* Bankable railway projects are now assured of funding and should be completed within the next 3-4 years
* Rs 24,000 cr contracts awarded since November 2014 as against Rs 13,000 crore contracts awarded in last six years
* Propose to electrify 2,000 km next year, increased electrification budget by 50%
* 8.5 lakh crore to spent over 5 years for modernization of railway infrastructure
* Mizoram and Manipur will come on the Broad gauge railway network soon
* Will generate 9 crore mandays employment by 2017-18 and 14 crore mandays by 2018-19
* Indian Railways has commissioned broad gauge lines at 7 km per day
* Every Rupee of investment in Railways has the capacity to increase economy-wide output by Rs 5.
* Happy to announce that action has been initiated on 139 budget announcements made last year
* 2,800 kms of new railway tracks next year
* We will continue to innovate and reorganise, exploit new sources of revenue
* We have managed to break away from the average capital expenditure of Rs 48,100 cr over the period 2009-14 and an average growth of only 8% per annum to achieve a quantum jump
* For year 2016-17 we expect the operating ratio of 92%
* These are challenging times, may be one of toughest.
* The Prime Minister once said his vision is to make Railways the backbone of India’s progress and economic development.
* We have to challenge conventional thinking on freight rates to win back our share in freight
* The Railway Budget is not my budget. It reflects the aspirations of the people in India.
* This budget will document a journey of transformation and journey of nation.
* We are taking all efforts to translate Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi’s vision into reality.
* Core objective is to become an engine of employment generation & economic growth at national level.
11.40 am: Suresh Prabhu has arrived in Parliament. He will present the Budget at 12 pm.
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 25, 2016
11.15 am: Suresh Prabhu at Rail Bhawan
Suresh Prabhu has arrived at Rail Bhawan. Speaking to reporters, he said: “I hope we’ll be successful in addressing the needs and aspirations of people of country.”
10. 57 am: Budget will benefit the nation, says Naidu
BJP leader and Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said it will be a good budget that benefits the nation.
10.53 am: Hike passenger fares, says Assocham
Industry body Assocham in a memorandum to Suresh Prabhu requested that the ministry hike passenger fares to improve services and reduce losses.
“There is lack of political will to raise passenger fares even though the reluctance is not shared by passengers, who would be willing to pay more provided the hike is accompanied by better services including timely arrival of trains, cleanliness at stations, safety and improvement in food,” the chamber said a memorandum to the Railway Minister.
It said the fare increase would reduce the drastic losses on passenger traffic, now running at 68 per cent of passenger earnings.
10.49 am: Railway budget to be screen at stations across the country
Minister Prabhu’s speech will be screened live across railway stations in the country. The New Delhi Railway Station itself will have about a 100 screens broadcasting the speech.
10.42 am: Will people get bullets, asks Congress
Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had this to say ahead of the Railway budget: “Let’s see what he’ll (Suresh Prabhu) give, whether bullet train is going or people going to get bullets.”
10.35 am: How is the budget prepared in India?
Budget preparation in Railways is a calculative process between the Zonal Railways, Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Finance.
It is a combination of –
a. Top down approach with the Ministry of Railways issuing guidelines or communicating instructions to spending Units of Railways
b. A bottom-up approach, wherein the spending Zonal Railways and other Railway Units present requests for budget allocation
10.20 am: What are the components of the budget?
Article 112 of the Constitution of India stipulates that Government should lay before the Parliament an Annual Financial Statement popularly referred to as ‘Budget’.
The Railway Budget presented to Parliament, besides the Railway Minister’s Budget speech consists of the following documents –
1. Budget of the Railway Revenue and Expenditure
2. Demands for Grants and detailed Demands for Grants
3. Explanatory Memorandum
4. Works, Machinery and Rolling Stock Programme.
5. Performance and Outcome Budget.
6. Appropriation Bill
7. Memorandum explaining the increase in fare and freight rates
Also read: Highlights of the Budget from Financial Express, here
10.15 am: Security personnel with sniffer dogs inspect copies of the Budget outside Parliament House
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 25, 2016
10.00 am: Here’s what Prabhu’s 2015 Rail Budget speech looked like
9.55 am: A sand artist pays tribute to the nations largest emloyer – the Indian Railways – ahead of the budget
9.50 am: Sougata Roy praises Suresh Prabhu ahead of the budget
Meanwhile, senior Trinamool Congress MP Sougata Roy praised Prabhu for his “proactiveness” and for being less of a politician and more a man of work.
Roy expressed confidence that the minister will be able to “break through” the colonial mindset prevailing in the railways.
“I know he is a pro-active minister and he wants to carry the work forward. He is less political, and more a man of work. We see politics in everything. But the minister does not indulge in much politics, he is more concerned with his work.”
9.45 am: Ahead of his speech, Suresh Prabhu does a breakfast chat on Periscope
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) February 25, 2016
9.33 am: Congress takes on Suresh Prabhu
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 25, 2016
9.25 am: Speaking hours before the budget is to be announced, MoS Railways Manoj Sinha said the budget will be the transformation of Indian Railways. “The budget has been prepared keeping in view the needs of common man,” he said.
9.23 am: Copies of the Railway Budget have arrived in Parliament
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 25, 2016
9.00 am: Suresh Prabhu will leave his office – Rail Bhawan – at 11.25 am to arrive at Parliament a little before noon, when he will present the Rail Budget. MoS Railways Manoj Sinha and Railway Board members will also be present.
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A day ahead of the Rail Budget, Prabhu said he will cater to the needs of all “satisfactorily” as a lot of effort has gone into its preparation.
“The Rail Budget we have prepared is in the interest of the nation and railways.”
“We have tried to meet the needs of all satisfactorily. A lot of effort has gone into making the budget. We have taken the ground reality into consideration before finalising it,” he said.
Efforts are on to generate revenue for railways through non-tariff sources like advertising, commercialisation of surplus land, official sources said, adding that a separate directorate is being planned for this purpose.
Railways have earned Rs 136,079.26 crore as against the target of Rs 141,416.05 crore during April-January period, a decline of 3.77 per cent.
Railways had effected a 14 per cent across-the-board hike in passenger fares in 2014 during the NDA regime and a 10 per cent increase last year.
However, despite the grim economic condition, the Railway Budget is expected to focus on massive capacity creation in the rail sector with an increased plan outlay of about Rs 1.25 lakh crore.
A significant amount will be earmarked for safety upgradation, electrification, doubling and modernisation of yards to clear traffic bottlenecks, the sources said.