New Delhi, Feb 25: No hike in the passenger fare and freight rate has been proposed in the Railway Budget 2011-12. The Budget with highest ever plan outlay of Rs. 57,630 crore will have Rs. 9,583 crore for new railway lines and significant funds for passenger amenities.
Presenting the Railway Budget in Parliament today the Minister for Railways, Mamata Banerjee, announced a number of new initiatives including expansion of railway network, modernization of safety and security and welfare of railway employees.
Proposing highest ever plan outlay of Rs. 57,630 crore the Railway Minister said that it will be financed through Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) of Rs. 20,000 crore, diesel cess of Rs. 1,041 crore, internal resources of Rs. 14,219 crore and market borrowings of Rs. 20,594 crore. She said that external source of financing through Public Private Partnership (PPP), Wagon Investment Scheme (WIS) etc is expected to yield Rs. 1,776 crore.
Reiterating her commitment to the expansion of the rail network the Minister of Railways proposed an allocation of Rs. 9,583 crore for new lines, Rs. 5,406 crore for doubling the lines and Rs. 2,470 crore for gauge conversion projects. To overcome shortages in wagons, coaches and locomotives, Rs. 13,820 crore has been earmarked for acquisition of rolling stock. She proposed introduction of 56 new Express Trains, 3 new Shatabdis and 9 new Duronto Trains during 2011-12, besides 47 additional suburban services in Mumbai and 50 new suburban services for Kolkata. AC double-decker services will be introduced on Jaipur-Delhi and Ahmedabad-Mumbai. Services of 33 trains will be extended while frequency of 17 trains will be extended. 107 new line surveys will also be taken up during the year.
The Minister also proposed to set up additional mechanized laundry units at Nagpur, Chandhigarh and Bhopal for improving the quality of linen in trains and 700 MW gas-based power plant at Thakurli in Maharashtra for energy requirement of the Railways. She said that 18,000 Wagons will be procured during 2011-12 for better freight management.
As a unique initiative for the welfare of the poor the Minister proposed construction of 10,000 shelter units for track side dwellers in Mumbai, Sealdah, Siliguri, Tiruchirapalli on pilot basis.
The Minister proposed extension of concessions for physically handicapped persons in Rajadhani and Shatabdi Trains. Now Press correspondents will also be entitled to avail 50 % concession with family twice in a year instead once in a year. At present the concession for senior citizens is extended to both men and women at 60 years of age, the Railway Minister proposed to reduce the age to 58 years in the case of women, besides increasing senior citizens concession from 30% to 40%.
Declaring that one of the main objectives of her ministry is to bring social revolution to rail connectivity, the Railway Minister proposed a non-lapsable fund for socially desirable projects under the name of ‘Pradhan Mantri Rail Vikas Yojana'. She also proposed an increase of Rs. 771 crore to connect the underdeveloped areas of Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Bihar and Maharashtra through rail network. A non-lapsable Fund for Railway projects in the northeast region has also been proposed and all the state capitals of the region except Sikkim will be connected by railway network in the next seven years.
Stating that safety is the first priority of the Railways, the Railway Minister said that Anti Collision device (ACD) will be deployed on more routes, now it will cover 8 zonal railways.
Expressing concern over loss of rail properties during various agitations in recent past, she announced that the States which will ensure trouble-free train running for the whole year will be awarded with two new trains and two projects as a special package.
Declaring 2011-12 as a ‘Year of Green Energy' for Railways the Minister proposed free supply of 14 lakh CFLs to railway households, increase use of solar energy at LC gates, stations etc., use of bio-diesel, CNG and LNG in locomotives.
Highlighting the efforts being made to improve the amenities and to provide better experience to the passengers at stations the Minister said that 236 more stations will be upgraded as Adarsh Stations. A Multi-purpose pan-India smart card “Go India” will be introduced very soon to provide single window package for seamlessly pay for tickets for long distance, suburban, metro traveling. The passengers can use this card at booking counters, vending machines, internet etc. Besides this a new portal for e-ticketing will be launched shortly. Booking of tickets through this portal would be cheaper with a charge of only Rs. 10 for AC classes and Rs. 5 for others. The Minister also proposed a new Super AC class of travel with improved comfort and features and more exclusively. A feasibility study would be undertaken to increase the speed of passenger trains to 160-200 kmph with the help from Japan, she said.
Announcing the measures for the welfare of railway employees, the Minister proposed extension of medical facilities to dependent parents, increase in the scholarship for the girl child of gangmen and group ‘D' employees to Rs. 1,200 per month for higher education, 20 new hostels for children of railway employees and restructuring of all the cadres to provide adequate promotional opportunities. She also proposed a separate sports cadre for railway employees.
Highlighting the efforts being made for the recruitment of staff in railway the Minister said that 1.75 lakh posts in Group ‘C' and ‘D' are being filled up and steps have been taken to fill up about 13,000 posts in Railway Protection Force. These mega recruitment drives will cover the backlog of SC/ST/physically handicapped quota. She also announced that the railways is inducting 16,000 ex-servicemen by end of March 2011.
Stating that the Indian Railways is passing through difficult financial phase she said that, 6th Pay Commission's Recommendations have heavily impacted internal resource generation of the Railways. Disruption of train movements during 2010-11 resulted in a loss of about Rs.1,500 crore and another Rs. 2000 crore due to the ban on export of iron ore. As a result, the loading target had to be reduced by 20 million tonnes to 924 million tonnes. However, in the revised estimates, goods earnings have been retained at the budget level based on trends of higher yield per Net Tonne Kilometer (NTKM). The total gross earnings have now been fixed at Rs. 94,742 crore which is Rs. 177 crore higher than the budget. With the reduced traffic suspense clearance of Rs. 98 crore , Gross Traffic Receipts is higher than the budget target by Rs. 75 crore at Rs. 94,840 crore.
On the basis of freight traffic projection of 993 million tonnes and passenger growth of 6.4% the Minister said that the Gross Traffic Receipts are estimated at Rs. 1,06,239 crore during 2010-11 which will cross the one lakh crore mark for the first time. While Working Expenses are estimated at Rs. 96,450 crore.