Despite populist overtones, a good railway budget
Despite the populist overtones due to compulsions of election, Indian Railway Budget 2008-09 is a good budget. Railway Budget presented by Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav on 26th February 2008, has been welcomed by most of the Industry/Trade associations. One of the associations has gone ahead and called it a `Pragmatic, Progressive & Futuristic’ Budget.
The Railway Budget reflects a very healthy growth. With a freight target of 850 million tonnes (freight earnings of Rs 53,000 crore) and gross traffic receipts of Rs 82,000 crore.
Proposals for 5% reduction in freight rates for petrol and diesel and 14% reduction in freight rate of fly-ash would give Railways an edge for attracting more and more traffic towards it. With the introduction of over 53 new trains, the Railways would pose tough competition for road and air traffic. With this move, the air, fuel and noise pollution on roads would subside a great deal.
Reduction in fare, travel concessions to women and senior citizens would help Railways to attract more and more traffic towards it and create healthy competition. Commercial use of railways land by Rail Development Authority to give a boost to railways revenue is another step that will prove an important landmark in the history of Indian Railways.
Initiatives like raising the axle load of wagons by way of introducing 30 ton-axle load wagons, introduction of double and triple stacking containers and special type of wagons for specialized cargo like iron ore would bring down wagon turnaround time and thereby increase efficiency and capacity.
Construction of the East-West corridor with finalisation of Ludhiana-Kolkata and Delhi-JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust) Corridors is expected to avoid congestion and increase efficiency in delivery.
The Railway Minister has introduced several new procedures which will hopefully facilitate private sector participation in the railways, particularly in the design and development of newer models and types of wagons and Proposal for mobilizing Rs.1 lakh crore out of this investment plan through the PPP mode.
Vision 2025 statement outlining an investment of a massive Rs 2,50,000 crore in improving the country’s railway network is a radical step to making Indian Railways as one of the best world class institutions.
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>> Highlights of Indian Railway Budget 2008-09