From average rail commuters and tax-payers to worldwide investors and analysts, all eyes are on crucial rail budget that will be going to introduced by the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on February 25.
A significant amount will be earmarked for safety upgradation, electrification, doubling and modernisation of yards to clear traffic bottlenecks, sources in the railways said. However, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will have to depend mostly on the External Budgetary Resources (EBR) for execution of the capacity augmentation projects and he will give details of his resource mobilisation plan in the Rail Budget 2016-17.
Since Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) from the Finance Ministry is unlikley to meet the railways’ expectation, funding of projects will be mostly from EBR.
“Railways will execute only financially viable projects. Those projects which are financially not viable but economically and socially desirable will be undertaken through joint ventures with state governments,” the sources said.
Prabhu has written to the Chief Ministers of 18 states for taking up rail projects through joint ventures route. Six states, including Maharashtra, Odisha, Kerala, Andhra, Chhatisgarh, have signed MoUs with the railways for forming joint ventures.
While announcement of new trains is unlikely for the second consecutive year, a scheme for premium high-speed parcel trains is slated to be unveiled in the budget.
Facing a decrease in earnings, the railways will press into service many special trains on higher fares, which is an indirect way of raising fares.
The railways have earned Rs 136,079.26 crore as against the target of Rs 141,416.05 crore, a decline of 3.77 per cent.