No trains in the current budget and amenities get big boost
GN Bureau | February 26, 2015
Even while invoking the almighty ‘prabhu’ on bring his ministry back on rails; Suresh Prabhu unveiled a five-point programme on reforms and governance.
As he presented the railway budget for 2015 Prabhu announced the operating ratio target of 88.5 per cent for the next fiscal. “I asked, Hey Prabhu! How will all this happen,” the minister said during the beginning of his budget speech to the amusement of those in attendance.
Operating ratio is the amount of money spent to earn every Rs 100 and is a key indicator of railways financial health. The operating ratio target for the current financial year was 91.8 per cent.
Prabhu said his ministry will work on five key “drivers of action” – adopting a medium term perspective planning including a new White Paper; building partnerships with PSUs and funding agencies; Leveraging funding opportunities including Pension Funds; revamping management practices and systems; and setting standards for governance and transparency.
The rail ministry will spend over Rs 8.5 lakh crore over the next five years in a host of areas including capacity augmentation, modernization, passenger amenities and safety but will not hike passenger fares, Prabhu announced, highlighting the political sensitivity associated with tinkering with railway fares.
For a change the minister resisted the temptation to announce new trains or extension of services in his budget for 2015-16. He also did not increase passenger fares.
This is perhaps the first time in many years that the railways have not announced any new train in the budget. The minister however assured his colleagues in parliament that he will take requests from all MPs over the next few days and review them before announcing any new train.
Prabhu also announced a slew of passenger facilities including mobile application for complaints, water vending machines in major stations, CCTVs cameras in some long-distance trains and EMUs.
The railway minister also announced that surplus coaches from trains which are running on low capacity will be rationalised and added on lines which have high density.
Meanwhile, the daily passenger capacity of Indian railways is projected to increase from 21 million to 31 million in the next one-year, while freight capacity is expected to jump 50% from 1 billion tonnes to 1.5 billion tonnes.
Freight rates were, however, hiked in general barring high-speed diesel which was lowered by 1%. Rates were hiked by 0.8% for LPG, kerosene, 0.8% for iron & steel; 2.7% for cement, 10% for urea and 6.3% for coal.
After its withdrawal from Meghalaya and Arunachal, is it time to review AFSPA in other areas too?
There is an uncanny similarity in the pathological opposition to prime minister Narendra Modi by two members of the right wing, Pravin Togadia and Yashwant Sinha. They come from a diverse social and political background; yet they share a common strand that shows an unmitigated hatred towards
Data is the new oil; and it needs to be protected. In an interaction with Governance Now, Lionel Baraban, CEO of Famoco, talks about how the French tech firm is developing secure business devices to safeguard data against going to other countries. What are the major roles o
Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) and MTU, Germany have agreed to cooperate in the local manufacturing of technologically-advanced MTU series 8000 engines in India. Under the agreement, which was signed at India’s leading defence trade show Defexpo-18, the companies will manufacture the 16-
ONGC sportspersons outshone other participants in their respective categories in the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. ONGCians bagged 13 medals including 5 Gold, 3 Silver and 5 Bronze, contributing to the 66 medal tally of Team India. ONGCians Ragala Venkat Rah
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has bagged an order for the renovation and modernisation (R&M) of electrostatic precipitators (ESP) at Ramagundam super thermal power station. The Rs 137 crore-turnkey-order envisages carrying out R&M of ESPs of three units of 200 MW each at Ra