Passenger fares, freight rates left untouched in rail budget
New Delhi: Passenger fares and freight rates were left untouched today in the interim rail budget, which talks about plans about involvement of private sector and FDI as part of efforts to modernise the largest transport network in the country.
Presenting the interim budget for four months in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said an independent Rail Tariff Authority is being set up to rationalise fares and there was a proposal to expand dynamic pricing of tickets in line with the airline industry.
He announced the launch of 17 new premium trains, 39 express trains and ten passenger trains in the coming year and providing rail connectivity to Katra and Vaishnodevi in Jammu and Kashmir, and Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh in the Northeast.
Kharge’s budget speech was cut short because of continued slogan-shouting and unruly behaviour by MPs from Andhra Pradesh, with even four Ministers trooping into the Well over the Telangana issue.
The Minister also announced starting of more high-speed trains and said the Ministry was exploring low-cost option of semi high-speed trains on select routes moving at 160-200 km per hour.
The budget speech did not touch upon passenger fares or freight rates. Kharge later said no hike has been proposed.
Annual Rail Plan has been pegged at Rs 64,305 crore with a budgetary support of Rs 30,223 crore.
Railways targets record Rs 1.6 lakh crore revenue in 2014-15
Anticipating healthier economic growth, the Railways has targeted a record Rs 1.6 lakh crore in revenue for the next financial year, while no increase has been proposed in passenger fares and freight rates.
“The Budget Estimates for goods, passenger, other coaching and sundry other earnings have been kept at Rs 1,05,770 crore, Rs 45,255 crore, Rs 4,200 crore and Rs 5,500 crore, respectively, in 2014-15,” Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said in the Lok Sabha while unveiling the Interim Rail Budget.
In the current financial year, earnings from freight and passenger services are estimated at Rs 1,31,500 crore.
No increase in passenger fares and freight rates has been proposed in the Interim Rail Budget for 2014-15.
According to the budget document, the Annual Plan for 2014-15 envisages investments of Rs 64,305 crore. The Budget Estimate for 2013-14 was Rs 63,363 crore and the Revised Estimate was Rs 59,359 crore.
Budgetary support from general revenue has been proposed at Rs 30,223 crore, it said.
“Anticipating a healthier growth of economy, the freight traffic target is proposed at 1,101 million tonnes, an increment of 49.7 million tonnes over the current year’s revised target of about 1,052 million tonnes,” the budget document said.
Railways to run 17 premium AC special trains
Encouraged by the success of a premium AC special train between Delhi and Mumbai, Railways have decided to run 17 more such trains in busy routes and explore the possibility of running semi-high speed trains between 160-200 kmph to Chandigarh and Agra from here.
The premium train to Mumbai, run to handle the extra rush during Christmas and New Year, had fetched an increased earning of about 48 per cent as compared to Mumbai Rajdhani as the fares were charged under dynamic fare mechanism scheme much like that done by airlines.
“Such dynamic pricing was widely appreciated by users and media and gave increased earnings of about 48 per cent as compared to Rajdhani services on the same sector. We are considering operation of this scheme on a larger scale,” Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said in his Interim Budget speech 2014-15.
He announced 17 such premium trains from different parts of the country which are considered high density routes.
The Minister said there are seasonal and occasion- specific instances when demand for travel by certain train goes up and passengers are prepared on such occasions to pay more to undertake journey.
Most of these train are weekly or bi-weekly and would run in routes such as Howrah-Pune, Howrah-Mumbai,Kamakhya Chennai, Mumbai-Patna, Nizamuddin-Madgaon, Sealdah-Jodhpur, Ahmedabad- Delhi Sarai Rohilla and Trivandrum-Bangalore.
Some premium trains have also been introduced to Katra and rail connectivity to the holy town is expected to be commissioned soon.
The Minister announced 39 new express trains, 10 passenger trains, four MEMU and three DMU trains.
He also announced a semi-high speed project, with trains running at 160-200 kmph on existing routes such as Delhi-Agra and Delhi-Chandigarh.
“Indian railway also intend to explore low cost options for raising speeds to 160-200 km on existing select routes like Delhi-Agra and Delhi-Chandigarh,” he said.