NEW DELHI: Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi on Wednesday presented his maiden RailwayBudget in Parliament and said the budget was aimed at the common man.
Towards the end of his Rail Budget speech, Trivedi announced that train fares would be increased across all classes, but the hike would be nominal. In the first hike in nine years, the minister said the proposal was to hike fares ranging from two paise to 30 paise per kilometre.
The minister emphasized there would not be any steep increase in passenger ares.
Trivedi said the increase would be 2 paise per km for suburban trains; 3 paise per km for mail trains.
Express train fare was up by 5 paise per km, 10aise p per km for a/c chaircar, 10 paise per km for a/c 3-tier, 15 paise per km for a/c 2-tier and 30 paise per km for a/c 1st class.
He said the attempt was to round off fares to eliminate the need for change.
Platform tickets would now cost Rs 5, he said.
The railway minister also announced the setting up of a body of experts to examine setting up of an independent Railway Tariff Regulatory Authority.
During his Railway Budget speech, Dinesh Trivedi announced 75 new express trains and 21 new passenger trains. He said the railways was expected to recruit over one lakh people in the next financial year.
Guru Parikarma train covering Amritsar, Patna and Nanded was one of the trains that woule be introduced, he said.
Dinesh Trivedi said the railways would induct two board members for marketing and safety.
At the start of his presentation of the Rail Budget, the minister said the emphasis of the Rail Budget would be on improving infrastructure.
Safety is my first priority and sole emphasis, Dinesh Trivedi also said while reading out his budget speech. "India Railways has to be be benchmarked with Europe and Japan," he said.
"My focus will be safe safety, safety, safety," Trivedi told the Lok Sabha, adding this was the decision he took as soon as he assumed charge his ministry last year against the backdrop of a rail accident in Uttar Pradesh last year.
"I wow to target zero deaths," he said in his 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."
Trivedi said he was not satisfied with the current safety standards. He said a special purpose vehicle would be set up to achieve better safety protocols. Trivedi said unmanned level crossings would be abolished in the next five years.
Trivedi said the target of reducing accidents from 0.55 to 0.17 has been met.
The railway minister said focus would also be on modernisation of railways and the Prime Minister's advisor Sam Pitroda would head the railway modernization commiittee. The minister for railways announced several modernisation programmes for the railways in his speech and said investment of Rs 5.60 lakh crore would be required for the purpose.
The other four three areas listed by the minister were consolidation, de-congestion and capacity augmentation, bringing down operating ratio. Trivedi said the operating ratio of the railways -- amount spent on running the network against revenues -- will be lowered to 84.5 percent from the current 95 percent, and to 74 percent by the terminal year of the 12th plan.
This is key to the network being able to garner money for expansion and modernisation.
Trivedi 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 percent.
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.
Trivedi announced another scheme - Indian Railways Stations Development Corp will redevelop stations and maintain them on pattern of airports, he said. The minister also anounced special projects for the north-east and Jammu Kashmir.
With several railway employees also good sportspersons, Trivedi announced the setting up of a Rail Khel Ratna Award to be given to 10 sportspersons every year.
* Railways must attract 10 percent 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 percent.
*487 approved projects at various levels of execution
*Market borrowing through IRFC at Rs 50,000 cr needed in 2012
*Modernize rolling stock via fresh purchases of wagons, engines
*Plan to upgrade 19,000 kms of tracks in 5 years
*To create 1000 stations through PPP route in 5 years
*Station development org to be funded via PPP
*Delhi-Kolkata travel time to be brought down to 14 hours from 17 hours
*Facilitate running of longer and heavier freight trains
*To introduce double decker container trains
*Total cost of signalling for five years is Rs 35,000 crores
*17 gauge conversion projects will be completed in FY 12-13
*825 kms of gauge conversion projects to be completed
*Rs 6872 crore allocated under the new line plan
*Development of major stations to create 50,000 jobs
*New lines to be laid in under-developed parts
*Plan to enhance GPS use in railways
*To complete over 45 new lines in FY13, stretching over 700 kms
*Rs 1102 crores for passenger amenities in FY 13 as compared to Rs 700 cr in previous year
*To set up elevated suburban corridors in Navi Mumbai. Working on PPP for elevated Churchgate-Virar corridor
*New lines to be set up for Kolkata Metro
*Railways to take up linking of Agartala to Akura in Bangladesh.
*31 projects of over 5,000 km being implemented with the support of state governments.
*All meter gauge, narrow gauge sections to be made broad gauge, except heritage lines, by end of 12th Five Year Plan.
*725 km of new line completed in the current year, Rs 6,725 crore for new lines, says Trivedi.
*14 new rail line survey to be taken up in 2012-13.
*Budgetary support pegged at Rs 25,000 crore for the coming year as against projected requirement of Rs 45,000 crore.
*Logistics Corporation will be created for providing logistics solutions for rail users.
Earlier before leaving for Parliament, Trivedi told reporters, "The budget is going to be very good for the country and the common man. I have to make sure that Indian Railways is solid like gold."
"The railways are one of the most important infrastructure. Without the railways growing, India's GDP cannot grow," the minister added.
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