Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge’s interim Rail budget with an optimistic note on reform may not be as rosy as pictured mainly because expenditure is mounting and funds for modernisation and upgrade are limited. On top of that, a huge outgo is anticipated for the proposed Seventh Pay Commission.
Railways has projected Rs 1,64,995 crore revenue for the next fiscal, around Rs 20,000 crore more. Expenses will continue to go up. Total working expenses will shoot up to Rs 1,44,199 crore next fiscal, from Rs 127,260 crore this year, irrespective of whether it earns as much as targeted.
The railway hopes to end this fiscal with a surplus of about Rs 8,000 crore, less than 2012-13 and about Rs 5,000 crore lower than last budget’s projection for this year. Going by track record, many in the ministry feel next year’s surplus projection upwards of Rs 10,000 crore is too optimistic.
Pension bill is going to swell by about Rs 7,000 crore by next financial year at Rs 26,700 crore. Working expenses shot up by about Rs 1,500 crore to touch Rs 97,000 crore. This will shoot up to Rs 1,10,649 crore by next year.
With expenses increasing, Railways have had to cut money in creation, maintenance, renewal and repair of assets. Depreciation Reserve Fund, meant for renewal of assets has seen a decline by Rs 1,000 crore from the budget figures Rs 6,500 crore. For next year, Railways has earmarked Rs 350 crore more.
The Development Fund for amenities and welfare measures declined to Rs 2,675 crore from Rs 7,815 crore in 2012-13. For next year, the earmarked amount is Rs 3,550 crore.
Capital Fund for new assets which ordinarily receives surplus from the Development Fund, is Rs 3,700 crore, down from Rs 5,433 crore this year.
According to Railways Financial Commissioner Rajendra Kashyap, the organisation is trying to build newly created Debt Service Fund, which will take care of loan liabilities notably from JICA for the Dedicated Freight Corridor and try and cushion against the Seventh Pay Commission hike. “We believe the economy to look up next year and business to pick up, going by trends of the last three months. The projections about earnings are hence the way they are,” Chairman Railway Board, Arunendra Kumar said.
Many new trains for ministers’ states
Express New Service
New Delhi, February 12
Predictably, Karnataka, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh — the three states whose leaders are at the helm at Rail Bhawan — have together got a significant share of the sops in the budget.
Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge’s state of Karnataka has got four of the 17 premium trains, Jai Hind Express, and seven of the new Express trains. MoS Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has managed four premium trains and five regular Express trains for his state of West Bengal. The other MoS, K Suryaprakash Reddy, has also ensured a few Express trains for his state of Andhra Pradesh.
Due to the countrywide demand for connectivity with Mumbai, Maharashtra has got nine premium trains and 11 Express trains. Gujarat has got four Express trains and one premium train.
Sources said Chowdhury got one train, Howrah-Balurghat (bi-weekly), inserted minutes before Kharge was to leave for Parliament. “West Bengal generates a lot of rail tourism. Going by the demand, it deserved more services, so those have been included,” said Chowdhury.
One new Express train that he got approved starts from the Congress’s stronghold of Malda in North Bengal and reaches New Delhi via Amethi and Rae Bareli — the bastion of Congress chief.