Railways Minister Lalu Prasad is set to present the country's interim rail budget for the next fiscal in Parliament on Friday, with an expectation that he would once again spare the average citizen from fare hikes and introduce some new trains.
The minister had presented all the five previous rail budgets for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government since 2004, during which he set a record of sorts in terms of generating revenues despite lowering fares.
He will present an interim budget this time as elections are due soon and by convention the presentation of the regular budget in an election year is left to a new government.
"During his tenure so far, 604 new trains were introduced, in addition to 105 local trains," a senior official at Rail Bhavan said, even as Lalu Prasad was seen giving the final touches to the budget papers.
The regular rail budget presented last year had reduced fares across-the-board apart from a focus on hygiene, punctuality, new routes, better coaches and mobile ticketing.
He is also credited to have introduced the 'Garib Rath'- the air-conditioned low-fare trains aimed at passengers from the lower economic strata of the society. As many as 15 such trains are currently running, and their numbers are expected to be increased.
The Indian Railways are the second largest railroad in the world under a single management, running more than 11,000 trains every day, 7,000 of which are for passengers.
The network comprises 108,706 km and ferries 14 million passengers daily from 6,853 stations across the length and breadth of the country. This is the reason why it is the only ministry that has a separate budget.