The Tata Group have shown interest in the government’s ambitious plan of rolling out 150 passenger trains run by private players, adding heft to the high-priority project — mentioned by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech — that seeks to end Indian Railways’ monopoly in the sector.
Representatives from the Tatas participated in the latest stakeholders’ meeting in which companies such as the Adanis, Alstom, Siemens and Bombardier, among others, were also present.
“The Tata Group is one of the companies that participated in the stakeholders’ meeting,” Railway Board chairman V K Yadav said on Saturday.
The government is expecting an investment in rolling stock to the tune of at least Rs 22,500 crore, and Railways is hoping to earn through licence fee and haulage charges by leasing out 100 traffic-heavy routes to private players, who will operate 150 trains.
In her speech, Sitharaman said, “Four station re-development projects and operation of 150 passenger trains would be done through PPP mode. The process of inviting private participation is underway.”
Sitharaman also proposed setting up of a large solar power capacity alongside the tracks on land owned by the Railways. Yadav later said that 51,000 hectares along the tracks will be used to set up these solar and wind power systems.
The Finance Ministry has given Rs 70,250 crore as gross budgetary support for the next fiscal to fund an overall capital expenditure of Rs 1.61 lakh crore. This is marginally up from Rs 68,104 crore given in the ongoing fiscal for a capital spend of Rs 1.56 lakh crore.
With an operating ratio of 97.4 per cent, a bludgeoning expenditure profile and plateauing income from core business, Indian Railways’ finances, as presented in the Budget, show that the national transporter is working hard to keep financial crisis at bay, at least on paper.
The operating ratio is worse than the 95 per cent projected in the Budget Estimate, and in a nutshell captures the precarious income-expenditure disparity the Railways is trying to balance.
Operating ratio is the indicator of money spent to earn every Rs 100 — the lower the better.
Its revenue expenditure — or money spent to run the house and carry out its business — is pegged at Rs 2.02 lakh crore, while its income is estimated to be Rs 2.06 lakh crore.
The Railways says it will strive to spend less by rationalising “fuel expenditure and imposition of austerity and economy measures”. The operating ratio target for next year has been kept at 96.2 per cent.
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Freight loading, Railways’ core business, is plateauing. The loading target for this fiscal has been kept at 1,223 million tonnes, which is the same as last fiscal.
For the next fiscal, Railways has estimated that it will earn Rs 2.25 crore and pegged its revenue expenditure at Rs 2.19 crore, which is just 8 per cent more than this year.
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