The Centre may chart planned expenditure of around Rs 1.6 lakh crore for the Railways in its last Budget, to be presented Friday.
While this could be just about eight per cent more than last year’s Rs 1.48 lakh crore of capex target, the Modi government’s constant infusion of investment to upgrade the country’s archaic railway infrastructure makes it around 148 per cent hike in capex since 2014.
The last Rail Budget vote on account under the UPA government had projected a capex of Rs 64,305 crore while Railways had managed to spend around Rs 59,359 crore in the fiscal year 2013-14.
Sources said around Rs 60,000 crore of the total planned expenditure might be through borrowings or what is termed Extra Budgetary Resources, Institutional Financing, for which parliamentary approval is not needed. This financial year, the total borrowing for capital expenditure is likely to be pegged at around Rs 26,000 crore. Railways may seek vote on account or parliamentary approval, for only four months of capex, which is somewhere around Rs 40,000 crore.
The Operating Ratio for 2018-19 is likely to be projected at around 95 per cent — better than last year’s 98.5 per cent, the worst ever for Railways end of a financial year.
Like last year, Railways has taken around Rs 10,000 crore from one of its biggest clients, NTPC, as advance freight.
Despite having a challenging year in terms of revenue earnings, Railways is likely to project a revenue target exceeding Rs two lakh crore for 2019-20, same as last year.