New Delhi, Feb 26: Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal will present the Railway Budget 2013-14. He will be the first Congress minister in 17 years to present the railway budget. Bansal took over as the railway minister after the Trinamool Congress (TMC) withdrew its support from the UPA government on question of popular policies.
On January 22, the railway ministry had raised passenger fare hike across the board by 21 per cent, aiming to raise revenue by about Rs 6,600 crore.
Bansal announces 67 new express trains, 27 passenger trains besides more local train services.
Bansal speaks on the new routes that would be taken up, including those through PPP models.
750 km of railway tracks to be doubled. Twenty-two projects of new lines.
Protest in the House as the railway minister announces new train and track projects. Speaker Meira Kumar tries to calm them down.
Sushma Swaraj fails to hold herself back as Bansal struggles to read local names. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has a frown on her face.
Marginal increase in supplement charge in super-fast trains like reservation charge, cancellation charge, tatkal and others.
Stresses rail tariff authority. Bansal said the railways have no intention to burden the passengers. No hike in passenger fares. Bansal, however, said that new mechanisms had to be worked out to absorb the increase in fuel hike.
Railway to complete electrification of 12,000 km this year.
Kolkata Metro's pending projects to be taken forward. Dum Dum-Noapara route to be completed. East-West project to be taken over.
AC electric train services in Mumbai to be completed. Rakes have been increased from 9 to 12 coaches.
Freight charges to increase by 5 per cent from April 1, 2013.
"One day Railways shall find ways to reduce dependence on GBS to finance projects," the railway minister said.
Bansal spoke on the railways' current situation and what it aims to achieve in the 2013-14 fiscal.
He said fuel adjustment component has taken Rs 3,300 crore from railways coffers.
"Money saved is money earned," said Bansal.
Railways to focus on financial discipline. No wastage will be entertained. Progress of work to be quickened, funding priority projects and complete them on time, repaying of loans, stringent fuel consumption, and others. Bansal said the railways repaid Rs 3,000 crore loan from ministry of finance.
Railways to give fellowships. To set up a management institute. Multi-disciplinary training institute in Nagpur.
Railways to stress skill development and train its employees.
Bansal appreciated the sports performance of Railways employees. He congratulated Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar and also granted special passes to sportspersons in elite trains. A railway sports promotion board has also been set up, Bansal said.
Special concession to kin of recipients of national honours. Freedom fighters can renew their concessions every three years instead of one.
Railways to work on green energy initiatives. It will utilise solar and wind energy and use recycled staff. Railway Energy Management Company to be set up.
Railway recruitment to be widened. A backlog of 47,000 vacancies is likely to get cleared.
Construction of staff quarters through PPP model.
Railways to improve social amenities of the railways and improve working conditions.
New rail factories in UP, AP and Rajasthan.
On freight, long trains to deal with capacity constraints.
Construction contract to cover 1,500 km to be awarded and work would start this year.
To connect border areas and those of strategic importance. Arunachal Pradesh has been brought under rail network. Work on connecting Manipur and Meghalaya in full swing.
Train links between Amritsar and Attari.
Common rail-bus tickets for Vaishnodevi pilgrims.
Bansal said technology will be used for the betterment of passenger services. He spoke on improving reservation mechanism through Internet and mobile phones. The railway will improve the online end-user experience. Next-gen ticketing system to be made available.
The online reservation system will see a paradigm shift by the year-end. It will control fraud and ensure transparency.
Food testing labs will be set up with better catering services.
A centralised caterer monitoring system. Cell to redress complaints on the standard of food has also been put in place last month (Toll free number: 1800-111-321).
Railways to use Adhar data base for reservation and validation.
Stress on tourism. Educational tourist train called Azadi Express to be started. Multi-nodal tourist plan to be put in practice with help of state authorities.
Railway minister speaks on higher travel comfort. To add 'Anubhuti' coaches to trains to provide best amenities to passengers. Wi-fi facilities will be made available in select trains.
Provision of escalators, lifts, indicators, free chairs and making coaches friendly for the challenged people.
Bansal speaks on measures taken to repair bridges, to curb accidents caused by fire, corporate safety plan, death of elephants in train hits, improve security of passengers, particularly the women.
He said the railways would recruit more women RPF personnel.
The ladies special trains would be monitored by women security personnel. He spoke to improve passenger amenities and said other factors should not compromise passenger security. He said cleanliness would be specially monitored in trains and platforms.
He said the railways was looking towards a zero-accident scenario. He said special care was being taken on safety concerns and spoke on accidents at level crossings. He said the funds were proving inadequate to improve the situation and cover more unmanned crossings.
Bansal stressed that the railway tracks need to be expanded at a faster rate. He said more revenues needed to be raised to meet the goals. He also expressed grief over the recent stampede at Allahabad railway station which killed many people who had gone to the Mahakumbh.
Bansal starts delivering the railway budget in the Parliament. He said the Indian Railways must remain financially sustainable for the benefit of all. He thanked Rajiv Gandhi for his rise in politics.
Common people expressed concern on cleanliness, punctuality, more frequent trains and catering services. Most sought a 'passenger-friendly budget'.
Bansal reaches the Parliament. Earlier, the railway minister had admitted that there were lot of demands and everyone wanted more trains. He said they would have to work with the resources available.
Sources said passenger fare will be hiked only in June and not in this budget. Meanwhile, former railway minister Trivedi said safety should be the main concern for the railways and modernisation is key for that.
Adviroy firm Macquarie reportedly said that the investors this year were hoping a repeat of last year's Budget proposal without any political drama. Last year, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee had asked for the removal of former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi after the latter proposed fare hike. The firm said that the budget this year would focus on enhancing infrastructure, safety standards, operational efficiency and service quality.
Former railway minister Lalu Prasad said he didn't have much expectation from this budget.
Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal reached the Rail Bhavan. He is expected to go to Parliament at 11 am and would present the budget at noon. The copies of the budget had already reached the Parliament around 9.45 am.