Presenting the interim and final Rail Budget of UPA-II ahead of the general elections, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge announced 73 new long-distance trains and 19 new lines and no fare hike.
Bits and Bites
* 90.8% Operating ratio (Money spent against every Rs 100 earned) — worse than last year’s 90.2%, 89.8% Projected for 2014-15
Premium Trains to ministers’ states
* 4 to Mallikarjun Kharge’s Karnataka
* 4 to Adhir’s West Bengal
* Katra (Vaishno Devi) gets 4 trains —the line will subsequently link to Kashmir Valley
* 3 premium weekly Jai Hind Express trains from Bandra (Mumbai), Howrah, Yesvantpur (Bangalore)
* 1 ordinary express train from Ahmedabad (Gujarat)
* Induction of Train Collision Avoidance System and smoke and fire alarm system
* Transporting milk in special parcel trains
* A new concept of hub for parcel business
* Automatic SMS alerts to passengers on the status of ticket, trains
* Freight loading target of 1,101 million tonnes — an increment of 49.7 million tonnes
Kharge said by authorising creation of a Rail Tariff Authority which will come into force soon, the process of tariff setting will become transparent and take away the powers of the Railway Board and the minister to set tariffs behind closed doors.
* I do not want to compete with anybody for popularity or in populist measures. I am really interested in the growth of railways, that it should give facilities to passengers and survive for the people of the country. Mallikarjun Kharge (Railway Minister)
* (The budget is) misleading and a gimmick to make false promises by an outgoing government.
Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal Chief Minister)
* The interim railway budget is no more than an election gimmick and stunt. We can term this a ‘farewell budget’ of the UPA-Congress government. Ananth Kumar (BJP general secretary)
* There is nothing in the railway budget for the people of Tamil Nadu to cheer about. But I take satisfaction in the fact that it is only an interim budget and the main railway budget to be presented in June, 2014, by a new government will reflect the aspirations of the people of Tamil Nadu. J Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu Chief Minister)
*By a single stroke, we cannot solve all problems that have been infecting the Indian railway system over decades. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (Minister of State for Railways)
* Converting strategically important 510 km long Rangiya-Murkongselek (Assam) metre gauge line into broad gauge
* Harmuti-Naharlagun (Arunachal Pradesh)