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Rail Budget: Fares hiked, 75 express trains announced

With safety as the prime focus, Union minister Dinesh Trivedi today spelt out five priority areas for his ministry over the 12th Five Year Plan. "My focus will be safe safety," he said while presenting the Rail Budget in Lok Sabha. However, the BJP has termed it as 'anti-aam admi' and said there is no vision in this budget.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2012 17:05 IST
news,Srinand Jha,hindustan times

Indian Railways will increase passenger fares by upto 30 paisa per km in 2012-13, Union minister Dinesh Trivedi said on Wednesday.

"I propose to rationalise the fares,” Trivedi said while presenting his ministry's budget for the next fiscal.

“I am asking for an extra only two paisa per km for suburban and ordinary second class, similarly an increase of three paise per km for mail and express trains and for sleeper class only by five paise per km,” the minister said.

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Trivedi said fares for AC chair car and three tier category will be increased by 10 paise per km, for two tier by 15 paise per km and for AC first class by 30 paise per km.

With a spate of fatal accidents in the past few years, the railway minister on Wednesday said safety would be the prime focus of his ministry during the 12th Five Year Plan, along with network expansion and modernisation.

"My focus will be safe safety, safety, safety," Trivedi told the Lok Sabha, presenting the rail budget for 2012-13. This was the decision he took as soon as he assumed charge of his ministry last year against the backdrop of an accident in Uttar Pradesh, the minister said.

"I vow to target zero deaths," he said in his maiden rail budget speech. "I also propose to set up an independent railway safety authority, as recommended by an expert group headed by the former Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar."

The other four focus areas along with safety listed by the minister were consolidation, de-congestion and capacity augmentation of the network, modernisation and bringing down the operating ratio. He also stressed on better hygiene and higher speed of trains.

Trivedi, a member of the Trinamool Congress, said the operating ratio of the railways -- amount spent on running the network against revenues -- will be lowered to 84.5% from the current 95%, and to 74% by the terminal year of the 12th plan.

This is key to the network being able to garner money for expansion and modernisation.

The minister said he was looking at the current budget not as an exercise for the next fiscal alone, but also for the entire five year plan, drawing from the Vision 2020 document of his predecessor and current West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

The Indian Railways run the third largest railroad network in the world spread over some 64,000 km, with 12,000 passenger and 7,000 freight trains each day from as many as 7,083 stations to ferry 23 million travellers and 2.65 million tonnes of goods daily.

Given the socio-economic role played by the railways in India's transformation, Trivedi also said time had come for formulating national policy for the network on the lines of those for defence and external affairs.

According to the minister, Indian Railways will invest Rs 7.35 lakh crore during the 12th Five Year Plan period (2012-17), against Rs 1.92 lakh crore in the current one. By then, it will double its contribution to India's gross domestic product to 2%.

Trivedi said the outlay of Rs 60,100 crore proposed for 2012-13 will be the highest ever and added that the network will require Rs 14 lakh crore over the next 10 years for modernisation.

Coming to specific proposals, Trivedi said 85 new line projects would be be taken up during the next fiscal year at a cost of Rs 6,870 crore, even as feasibility surveys would be conducted for another 114 lines.

He said an attempt will also be made to increase train speeds to 160 km per hour from around 90-100 km per hour. With that, he said, a journey from New Delhi to Kolkata will be brought down to 14 hours from 17 hours.

The following are the highlights of the Rail Budget for 2012-13 presented in Lok Sabha by Dinesh Trivedi:

* Electrification to be undertaken over 6,500 km at an allocation of Rs 8,000 crore during 12th Plan.

* Conversion from DC to AC power supply completed in Western Railway corridor of Mumbai suburban rail system; conversion of Central Railway corridor to be completed in 2012-13.

* Elevated corridor from Churchgate to Virar in Mumbai being firmed up.

* Government should consider dividend payback to railways.

* Thirty-one projects over 5,000 km being implemented with state govenments sharing costs.

* Capacity augmentation to get Rs 4,410 crore during 2012-13.

* Eighty-five new line projects to be taken up during 2012-13.

* One hundred and fourteen new line surveys to be undertaken during 2012-13.

* New line projects to get Rs 6,870 crore in 2012-13.

* Gauge conversion to be undertaken over 800 km with an allocation of Rs 1,950 crore.

* Focus during next five years on five areas: tracks, bridges, signalling, rolling stock and stations.

* Signalling to be improved over 19,000 km.

* Investment of Rs 1.70 lakh crore on rolling stock in next five years.

* Attempt to increase train speeds to 160 kmph; journey time from New Delhi to Kolkata can be brought down to 14 hours from 17 hours.

* Improvements to railway stations can provide employment to 50,000 people.

* Outlay of Rs.60,100 crore during 2012-13, the highest ever.

* Railways will require Rs 14 lakh crore in the next 10 years for modernisation.

* Aim to bring down operating ratio from 90 percent to 84.9% in 2012-13 and to 72% by 2016-17.

* Time has come for formulating national policy for railways on the lines of that for defence and external affairs.

* Railways should grow at 10% annually for sustained GDP growth.

* Railways to invest Rs 7.35 lakh crore during 12th Five Year Plan period (2012-17), a quantum jump from the Rs 1.92 lakh crore invested in previous plan period.

* Railways must attract 10% of the Rs 20 lakh crore government expects to spend on infrastructure during 12th Plan.

* Railways expect gross budgetary support of Rs 2.5 lakh crore during 12th Plan.

* Collective challenge to formulate viable funding mechanism for modernisation.

* Railways should contribute 2 percent of GDP from the present 1%.

* Stress on strengthening safety. Has to be be benchmarked with the best in the world.

* Target of reducing accidents from 0.55 to 0.17 has been met.

* Special purpose vehicle to be set up on safety protocols.

* Independent railway safety authority to be set up as statutory safety body.

* Investment of Rs 5.60 lakh crore required for modernisation.

First Published: Mar 13, 2012 22:48 IST