Terming the Rail Budget as "pragmatic", India Inc on Thursday welcomed the larger role envisaged for the private sector and said various measures proposed would bring in higher efficiency and improve ease of doing business.
"The Rail Budget would improve ease of doing business and improve connectivity of the manufacturing units with the ports and air connectivity. It would certainly in the long run remove bottlenecks in the key infrastructure for reducing cost of manufacturing in India," engineering exporters body EEPC India Chairman Anupam Shah said.
"The initiatives like larger role of the private sector in station upgradation, rolling stock and bulk transportation would go a long way in making the Railways efficient. Besides, enhancing train speed both for passenger and freight segment would bring in higher efficiency and improve ease of doing business," Assocham president Rana Kapoor said.
Railways minister Suresh Prabhu did not hike passenger fares in the budget presented on Thursday.
The minister hiked the freight rate for cement, coal, others by up to 10%; while envisaging investment of Rs 8.50 lakh crore in five years and proposed 77 new projects covering 9,400 km of doubling works, among others.
Besides, Prabhu announced a slew of measures for passengers including buttons and coin vending machines for railway tickets, e-catering to select meals from an array of choices, 24X7 helpline for passenger security issues and surveillance cameras in suburban coaches for women safety.
"Big increase in the Plan size of over Rs 1 lakh crore would lead to a positive impact on other sectors related with the Railways. The Budget shows that for the first time the government has started treating the Railways as a commercial enterprise without using it as a political vehicle," he added.
"Rather than taking up long-term goals he has talked about a lot of short term plans which are more achievable. The budget is aggressive and ambitious in nature," President & CEO at GE Transportation Nalin Jain said.
"The Rail Minister has today placed very positive and honest budget. After taking a stalk of what he has presented, we, the industry has reasons to feel bullish," CMD of TIL Ltd Sumit Muzumder said.
"This is a very positive budget that can build momentum for significantly reformed Railways in the years to come," G V Subrahmanyam," Partner at Grant Thornton India LLP said.
"For building track capacity Railways have a scheme where people can come and say I will build, operate and transfer (BOT) this particular section of the track. This was never open to the private investors. Now this area has been opened," MD of Rail Operations Hind Terminals L R Thapar said.
"The Railway Minister should have set some rules by which fare increases...This was the time to initiate a process by which fares will change over a period of time. Similarly for freight, we have seen that freight rates and passenger fares have not been touched. But the fact of the matter is they have been touched earlier," Sharat Mishra, Association of Container Train Operations, said.