Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi may have allocated the highest ever funds for rolling stock, at Rs. 18,193 crore, but that has not really drawn applause from the rolling stock manufacturers. The next financial year's allocation represents a 32% hike over last Railway budget's allocation of Rs. 13,824 crore.
"We knew about the financial situation of the Indian Railways, so our expectation wasn't really much," said JP Chowdhary, executive chairman, Titagarh Wagons. "The Railway minister simply does not have the money."
He added that the rolling stock manufacturers expect the orders to be maintained at last year's figure of 18,000 wagons though there could be some increase on account of new passenger and freight corridors coming up.
Chowdhary, however, did welcome the tie-up with the Ahmedabad-based National Institute of Design (NID) that will bring in "a lot of technological improvement in design of wagons." The R10 crore budget has been allocated to set up a dedicated Railway Design Centre at NID.
The Railway minister in fact listed rolling stock modernisation as one of the five focus areas, with a budgetary allocation of R1,71,751 crore for the 12th five year plan starting April 1. That may be a welcome step for the rolling stock manufacturers, who see a progressive increase in the annual outlay over the next five years.
"While the fine-print is awaited in the annexures, our estimate is that the plan outlay will lead to a 30-35% increase in orders for rolling stock," said Ajay Gupta, executive director, Commercial Engineers and Body Builders Company (CEBBCO).