Data released in the new government’s maiden rail budget shows that Railways are set to perform much worse than what UPA-2 had projected in its interim rail budget in February.
Railways projected its “ordinary working expenses” at over Rs 1.10 lakh crore. Today, the ministry adding Rs 2,000 crore under his head. Again, in February, railways projected Rs 26,700 crore towards its pension fund; five months on, the amount has gone up by Rs 1,850 crore. These add up to an expenditure of Rs 3,850 crore above the projection of February.
As per latest projections, passenger earnings, too, will see a fall by Rs 610 crore. This is essentially on account of the fare hike rollback it had to make in the monthly season ticket fares in suburban railways.
Compared to the interim budget, net revenue figures have nosedived in today’s budget. Against the Rs 19,654 crore projected in February, railways today brought the figure to Rs 15,198 crore. And “Excess” (the amount it is left with after paying dividend to the Centre) is now down to Rs 6,063 crore as against the Rs 10,538 crore projected then.
The combined impact of all of these revisions is that the railways’ operating ratio (the money spent to earn Rs 100) which was pegged at 89.8 percent this February has now dropped to 92.5 per cent.
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Railways have substantially reduced the amount it had allocated to Development Fund (which meets the expenditure to provide and upgrade passenger amenities) in February – from Rs 3,550 crore to only Rs 300 crore. The only silver lining in all this is that railways have decided to raise its capital fund, which is used to create new assets. Against Rs 3,700 crore appropriated to this fund in the interim budget, today’s budget has allocated Rs 5,662 crore.