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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rail Budget 2011: No hike in train fares

For the third successive year, the Railway Budget for 2011-12 spared passengers of any increase in fares and proposed no hike in freight rates while introducing 56 new trains, including nine non-stop Duronto trains and three Shatabdis.

Presenting her third budget in UPA-II in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a slew of concessions including reducing the eligibility age of senior women citizens from 60 to 58 years and the fare concession for men above 60 from 30 to 40 per cent.

Apparently with an eye on the coming Assembly polls in West Bengal, where she is projected as the chief ministerial candidate of the Congress-Trinamool combine, she came out with a number of projects for the state, including a metro coach factory in Singur, Rail Industrial Park in Nandigram, an integrated suburban network for Kolkata and 34 new services for the Kolkata metro.

Her announcements for the state evoked protests from members including those from Bihar, UP and Kerala, but she appealed to them to be patient for her other announcements.

The minister also extended the concession for physically-challenged people and Kirti and Shaurya Chakra awardees to travel in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains, besides extending facility of card passes to parents of unmarried posthumous Paramvir Chakra and Ashok Chakra gallantry award winners.

She also proposed to induct 16,000 ex-servicemen in the railways by March.

The budget proposes the highest-ever plan outlay of Rs. 57,630 crore for 2011-12. The gross budgetary support has been projected at Rs. 20,000 crore, diesel cess Rs. 1,041 crore, internal resources Rs. 14,219 crore and market borrowing at Rs. 20,954 crore.

The budget estimates for 2011-12 projects a freight loading of 993 million tonnes and a passenger growth of 6.4 per cent.

Gross traffic receipts has been estimated at Rs. 1,06,239 crore, exceeding the Rs. one lakh crore mark for the first time, despite pressure on finances on account of Pay Commission payout.

Ordinary working expenses have been assessed at Rs. 73,650 crore and appropriation to depreciation reserve fund pegged at Rs. 7,000 crore.

Provision of Rs. 6,735 crore has been made for dividend payment and the excess for Railways for the new fiscal has been projected at Rs. 5,258 crore, with an operating ratio of 98.1 per cent.

Following are the highlights of Rail Budget, 2011.

* To meet the demand for coaches, rail based industries to be set up under Vision 2020.

* First coach from the new rail factory at Rae Bareli to roll out in next three months.

* Railways to set up a bridge factory in Jammu and Kashmir considering need for large number of bridges on railway projects in the state.

* Proposal to set up metro coach factory near Singur in West Bengal.

* Track-machine industry to be set up in Uluberia in West Bengal.

* A 700 MW gas based power plant to be set up at Thakurli in Maharashtra.

* Anti-collision devices to be commissioned in three railway zones including South and South Central soon.

* 1,500 trains cancelled, 3,500 re-scheduled last year due to protests, other reasons.

* States showing good performance in rail movement to be provided with two new trains and two new projects.

* 'Go India' smart card ticket project to be launched this year.

* Restructuring of all cadres being undertaken in the Railways.

* 16,000 ex-servicemen to be inducted by March in the Railways for the first time.

* Enthused by the high number of medals in international sports competitions won by Railways, a sports cadre will be set up in the department.

* Railway earnings set to exceed the Rs. one lakh crore mark.

* Developing an integrated suburban rail network in large cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

* Physically challenged people can enjoy concession in Rajdhani, Shatabdi trains.

* Eligibility age for senior citizen concessions reduced to 58 from 60 for travel by rail.

* 47 additional services on Mumbai suburban section.

* Nine additional services for Chennai suburban service.

Source: Financial Express


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