Politics didn’t let him raise passenger fares and there was little elbow room to hike the freight tariff any more.
Yet, rail minister Suresh P Prabhu on Thursday came up with a six-point formula to make money without touching the tariff in his budget proposals.
Prabhu’s ideas ranged from leasing land along the tracks for horticulture and planting trees to monetising the data on passenger preferences. The minister announced that he intended to do more than double revenue from non-fare sources; up from the less than 5% of its total revenue to 10% by the next five years.
The railways estimated that its losses in passenger segment mounted from Rs 6,159 crore in 2004-05 to about over Rs 30,000 crore in 2015-16 due to sharp rise in costs without any commensurate increase in fare. Freight traffic – which generates about 67% of its total revenue – is already too high for comfort and pushing clients to use road transport.
This, he said, would put the railways’ non-fare revenue at par with the world average.
1.Lease out land along tracks
Railways plans to lease out vacant land along the tracks to promote horticulture and tree plantation. This would also generate employment for underprivileged sections, augment food security and prevent encroachment.
2.Monetising soft assets
Railways will monetise the data collected on passenger preferences, ticketing, commodity, train running on various services and operations. IRCTC could also explore how to make money by leveraging customers who visit its site.
Railways have already started redevelopment of railway stations to monetise land and buildings through commercial exploitation of vacant land and space rights over station buildings.
More advertisements are likely to go up at railway stations, on trains and on land adjacent to the tracks.
5.Overhaul parcel business
Liberalising its parcel policies will increase the non-fare revenue. The railways will also try to be a major player in the e-commerce sector.
6.Revenues from manufacturing activity
The railways will increase productivity of its units and hope to generate annualised revenue of about Rs.4,000 crore by 2020.
Watch | Suresh Prabhu says Rail Budget 2016 based on nation’s needs