New Delhi: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will announce his first Rail Budget today amid huge expectations of major reforms. The chartered accountant turned politician may lay the roadmap for attracting private investment in railways in a bid to raise more funds for project completions and infrastructure expansion.
Here are some of the expectations from Railway Budget:
1) The railways is likely to seek Rs. 50,000 crore from the Central government.
2) Passenger fares are unlikely to be hiked, but freight fares may be rationalized. Freight fares have been kept high in India to cross-subsidize passenger fares.
3) With 359 projects costing Rs. 1.82 lakh crore pending, Thursday’s Rail Budget could have fewer new trains and projects announcements.
4) More details about the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, for which just Rs. 100 crore has been set aside, are likely to come through. Plan to procure 20 train sets for operating on the Rajdhani and Shatabdi routes may be announced.
5) Announcements on passenger amenities are likely. A proposal to redevelop 100 stations can be made. AC coaches for inter-city services may be announced. Extensive use of IT systems, apps for passengers and Wi-Fi on rail premises may be announced.
6) Measures to enhance safety and security for passengers are expected. Railways has sought Rs. 20,000 crore from the finance ministry as safety fund to do away with unmanned level crossings, a major reason for train mishaps across the country.
7) Mr Prabhu may announce joint venture mechanism for implementing projects involving state governments and other external agencies.
8) Proposals to implement schemes to push ‘Make in India’ are expected. Domestic firms may get more incentives to manufacture locomotive components and coaches locally.
9) To implement ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign, the Rail Budget will include measures on cleanliness. 100 more trains may be covered under ‘On-Board Housekeeping Services’. Bio-toilets in trains and stations could be announced.
10) Green initiatives: Use of solar energy, launching of waste-to-energy project and proliferation of CNG in train operations are expected. Announcements on water recycling plants could be made.
(With inputs from PTI)