Railway's bread & butter untouched in Budget 2011?

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Mamata Banerjee
Bangalore, Feb 25: Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee might have pleased many with her Railway Budget 2011 that had been delivered today (Friday, Feb 25) in Lok Sabha. But there is no doubt that the Railway Minister has failed to impress corporate India with her fifth Rail Budget.

Freight, which is believed as the bread and butter of the Railways, has been ignored much in the Railway Budget 2011. The cross subsidising passenger fares with freight fares has led to a decline in the freight traffic over last few years.

RN Malhotra, the former Chairman of the Railway Board stated, "There has been no talk on freight which has been the bread and butter for Railways."

"Additional passenger trains are always at the cost of freight trains. These new announcements are always implemented even though they affect the punctuality of trains," added Malhotra.

Freight always suffers as passenger and goods train run on the same track and priority is always accorded to passenger trains, stated the expert.

56 new trains, including nine non-stop Duronto trains and three Shatabdis have been introduced in the 2011-12 Railway Budget session. The routes of the three new Shatabdi trains are - Pune-Secunderabad, Jaipur-Agra and Ludhiana-Delhi.

The routes of the new Duronto trains are - Allahabad-Mumbai, Madurai-Chennai, Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram, Pune-Ahmedabad, Sealdah-Puri and Mumbai Central-New Delhi.

Citing the upcoming election in West Bengal, Trinamool Congress chief, Ms Banerjee has given several reasons to the middle-class to rejoice. One of them is that booking will be cheaper by Rs 10 for AC and Rs 5 for non AC. Railways will employ 16,000 ex-servicemen from Mar 2011. Several students' special trains have been introduced in the latest railway budget.

Though Ms Banerjee started her budget speech with "Rapid growth of 8 to 9 per cent along with an acute sense of social responsibility," it has clearly failed to impress the Indian corporate world.

"She (Mamata) has announced additional units to be provided at various places but whatever has been announced in the last 4 years have not even come up yet," asserted Malhotra.

However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was moved by the Railway Budget, congratulated Ms Banerjee. The PM stated, "It is a common man's budget without increase in freight and passenger fares, thereby it will help to weaken cost push element of inflation."

"At the same time, Banerjee has taken care to increase investment in critical areas of infrastructure, which would supplement growth momentum of the economy," the PM added.

OneIndia News

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