New Delhi, Feb 25: Two years into the Cabinet, Suresh Prabhu will be facing his second railway budget today. According to internal reports, he is likely to announce premium trains at low costs to win back its customers from low-cost airlines.
These premium trains will run in the category of Shatabdi, Duranto and Rajdhani. Keeping quality travel as the main agenda, Prabhu seems to have designed sops to suit the both traveller's taste and the pocket.
Hence, expansion of e-catering to all important stations beyond the 42 already covered and in multiple trains. Bar-coded tickets and travel insurance also form a part of the budget. Branded food through e-catering will also be highlighted.
For freight tarrif, he may be announcing high-speed parcel trains, roll on-roll off container services to stem decline in traffic and improve earnings, and long-term contract.
He also aims to increase the revenues of the railway by commercializing the surplus land of the railways and through advertising.
Despite, acute financial stress, the railway budget is expected to see no hike in passenger fares. He may, however, raise income by charging premium facilities.
The minister also aims to decongest the overcrowded routes to ensure reduced travel time and enhance capacity. In fact, the budget is likely to hike the plan outlay to around Rs 1.25 lakh crore for modernization.
The transporter is expected to spend about Rs 90,000 crore between 2015-2016, railway's plan is to pump accounting for 20-30% more money to increase the opportunity to spend more on modernization by 2019, which is the NDA government's target before the next Lok Sabha elections.
National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) for running bullet trains will also be announced.