Politics

Rail Minister Mallikarjun Kharge Presents Interim Railway Budget 2014

Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge today presented the interim vote-on-account for Indian Railways in the Parliament. In a speech marred by angry protests by lawmakers over the Telangana issue, the Minister, as expected, refrained from any decision on revising passenger or freight fares. After announcing some new trains, the minister largely stuck to presenting the accounts of the previous year and made forecasts for the next financial year.

Railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday announced 17 new premium trains, 38 express trains and 10 passenger trains in the coming year, but refrained speaking on the issue of passenger fares and freight rates.

Presenting the interim budget for four months in the Lok Sabha, the Railway Minister 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.

Kharge 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.

Mallikarjun Kharge, however, had to suspend his Budget speech amid the protests over Telangana issue. The Railway Minster has pegged the FY15 annual plan at Rs 64,300 crore. He said the Rail Vikas Nigam and IRFC will borrow Rs 1,000 crore and Rs 12,800 crore, respectively form the market in FY15.

Announcements

  • Freight rates unchanged
  • Passenger fares to remain unchanged
  • To introduce 17 new premium trains, 38 express trains
  • To start passenger service to Vaishno Devi, Katra shortly
  • Setting up of 11.2 km-long tunnel in J&K. “A landmark project”.

Report card till now

  • Completed electrification of 4,556 km vs target of 4,500 km
  • Successfully met 6th pay panel recommendations
  • Completed doubling gauge of 2,227 km vs aim of 2,000 km
  • FY14 plan outlay revised to Rs 59,359 crore
  • Fund balances likely to be Rs 12,728 crore versus Rs 8,000 Cr (YoY)

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