Lalu to present Rail Budget tomorrow

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New Delhi, Feb 25 : The Indians are very hopeful that Rail Budget that will be presented by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav on February 26 will bring sops for them.

Indian Railways runs over 14,000 trains a day, and cutting fares would help tackle price pressures and woo voters ahead of general elections next year.

"We should get passes for our children, medical. There is no provision of water, no place to stay, so we are hopeful that the budget will take care of us," said Harnam Singh, a porter at New Delhi railway station.

The government wants to build up the railways to meet the demands of the fast growing economy that is currently moving at 8.7 per cent.

Last year, Lalu Prasad had cut freight rates for a string of fuels and minerals by between 5-6 percent, and outlined plans to modernise the century-and-a-half-old network, one of the world's largest.

The state-run network's earlier reputation for red-tape and inefficiency saw it losing freight traffic to trucks and passengers to a fleet of new, cut-price air carriers.

According to analysts, the rail network now has a cash surplus of nearly 2.5 billion dollars.

In the last two years, the railways has been innovative in its bid to turn a profit, from introducing competitive bidding for catering to leasing out advertising space on railway buildings, stations and some trains.

The Rail Ministry is trying to increase its share of freight by cutting costs and turnaround times, appealing to businesses frustrated by the slow movement of goods.

ANI

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