The Indian Railways may not be in good financial health but railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal was happy to announce that it has now joined the elite railway billion club of China, Russia and United States in transporting over a billion tonnes of goods in a year.
Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda hailed this year's Railway Budget and lauded the proposal to set up a rail coach manufacturing unit in Sonepat and introduction of new rail lines. He said the move had fulfilled long-standing demands of the state.
With no significant projects announced for the city, the railway budget was a disappointment for the 75 lakh Mumbaiites who use local trains every day.
Mumbaiites who were hoping that the 2013-14 railway budget, presented on Tuesday, would assure them new projects to ease their train commute woes will have been disappointed. Prajakta Chavan Rane reports.
Deputy chief minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar, on Tuesday, took on its ally Congress by terming the railway budget presented by union minister PK Bansal as unfair and disappointing for the city and the state.
Railway minister PK Bansal on Tuesday announced two new surveys for two railway lines - the Kalyan-Kasara third line and the Naigaon-Juchandra cord line - but other than that, the budget has not made provisions for a single new project in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Kailash Korde reports.
Travelling in Anubhuti coach, the special AC luxury class proposed in this year's rail budget, will be one and half times costlier than the First AC executive class in Shatabdi trains.
Plans to build 3,338-km Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) on India's eastern and western flanks may soon see the light of day, with railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal announcing that civil contracts to build 1,500 km of tracks will be awarded this fiscal.
While the railway budget for 2013-14 had no new project for the city, it did sanction Rs.
70 crore for various amenities such as escalators, foot overbridges, automatic ticketing vending machines (ATVM) and improvement of stations.
Even as important ministries including rural development, defence and roads and transport are facing a cut in allocations, the UPA government plans to extend the olive branch to the railways by increasing the Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) to the public transporter by approximately 40% in the upcoming Budget.
Railways are planning to introduce about 100 trains, including AC double deckers, new passenger services and extension of services to cater to the demands of various states in the Rail Budget 2013-14.
Railways has come under fresh pressure to further hike passenger fares, at least in a small way, and revise freight rate in the wake of virtual decontrol of diesel price but whether railway minister PK Bansal bites the bullet in the Rail Budget remains to be seen.
Improving passenger amenities by modernising stations, building new tracks and acquiring rolling stock will figure prominently in railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s inaugural budget speech today. Srinand Jha
reports. Likely proposals
While commuters hope that Tuesday’s railway budget does not mean another fare hike – it would be the fifth in less than one year – and has fund allocations to make their travel easier, the state wants the budget to consider the needs of the city and put the Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III on track.