Highlights of the Railway Budget 2015-16
Focus on cleanliness, safety and quality of life in journey
The budget highlighted the four goals for Indian Railways over next five years which include delivering a sustained and measurable improvement in customer experience, making Railways a safer means of travel, expanding Bhartiya Rail’s capacity substantially and modernising infrastructure and making Bhartiya Rail financially self-sustainable. It also stated five key drivers for execution strategy which includes adopting a medium term perspective, building partnerships with key stake holders to gain access to long term financing and technology from overseas, the private sector to improve last mile connectivity, expand fleet of rolling stock and modernize our station infrastructure, leveraging additional resources, revamping management practices, systems, processes and re-tooling of human resources and setting standards of Governance and Transparency.
Snapshot of Railway Budget 2015-16
The budget stated the proposed investment plan for the period 2015-2019 amounting to Rs. 8,56,020 crore, which will facilitate network expansion, network decongestion, safety, research, passenger amenities, high speed rails and elevated corridors and station redevelopment and logistics parks.
PROPOSED INVESTMENT PLAN (2015-2019)
Source: Railway Budget 2015-16, Ministry of Railways, Government of India
Quality of life in journeys—The major thrust areas of action plan focuses on establishing a new department for cleanliness “Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat” and “Bio toilets”, 24X7 helpline number and issuing unreserved tickets, coin vending machines, concessional e-tickets for differently abled travellers, developing a multi-lingual e-portal, etc. “SMS Alert” service informing passengers in advance of the updated arrival/departure time of trains at starting or destination stations. Introducing centrally managed Railway Display Network in over 2000 stations in next two years. Further, 200 more stations to come under Adarsh Station scheme; Wi - Fi to be provided at B category stations, online booking of wheel chair on payment basis for senior citizens, patients and the differently-abled passengers through IRCTC on select stations
Station Redevelopment-- Station redevelopment policy to be revamped and processes to be simplified
Network Expansion-- Decongesting networks with basket of traffic generating projects priority; priority to last mile connectivity projects ; fast track sanctioned works on 7,000 kms of double/third/fourth lines and commission 1200 km in 2015-16 at an investment of Rs. 8686 crore, 84% higher Y-O-Y. Further, acceleration of pace of Railway electrification, 6,608 route kilometers sanctioned for 2015-16 ,an increase of 1330% over the previous year.
Expansion of freight handling capacity --Transport Logistics Corporation of India (TRANSLOC), to be set up for developing common user facilities with handling and value-added services to provide end-to-end logistics solution at select Railway terminals through Public Private Partnerships.
Improving train speed--Speed of 9 railway corridors to be increased from existing 110 and 130 kmph to 160 and 200 kmph respectively. Average speed of freight trains in empty and loaded conditions, will be enhanced to 100 kmph for empty freight trains and 75 kmph for loaded trains; loading density on all major freight bearing routes to be upgraded to 22.82 tonne axle loads.
Bullet train--Feasibility study for High Speed Rail between Mumbai-Ahmadabad is in advanced stage and report expected by the mid of this year. For other high speed routes on the diamond quadrilateral,studies are being commissioned.
Safety--Action plan being prepared for areas where accidents occur and five-year corporate safety plan by June 2015 indicating annual quantifiable targets. Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) to develop a suitable device with reliable power supply system based on theft-proof panels/batteries in consultation with Indian Space Research Organization, using geo-spatial technology for providing audio-visual warning to road users at unmanned level crossings; radio based signal design project been taken up with IIT Kanpur for warnings at unmanned level crossing.
Technology Upgradation--Constituting an innovation council called “Kayakalp” for business re-engineering and introducing a spirit of innovation in Railways. Further, technology portal being constituted to invite innovative technological solutions. IT vision to be unveiled, information on latest berth availability station navigation system, bar coded/ Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking of parcels and freight wagons, automated parcel warehouses. Integration of train control and asset management applications.
Partnerships for development –Public Private Partnership (PPP) cell to be revamped to make it result oriented. Projects for rail connectivity to many ports and mines being developed. Further, Foreign Rail Technology Cooperation scheme” to be launched. Joint ventures to be set up with States for focused project development, resource mobilization,land acquisition, project implementation and monitoring of critical rail projects.
Resource Mobilisation-- Plan Budget up by 52% from Rs. 65,798 crore to Rs. 1,00,011 crore in 2015-16. Support from the Central Government 41.6% of the Plan and Internal generation 17.8 %. Further, setting up of a Financing Cell in the Railway Board. Setting up an infrastructure fund, a holding company and a JV with an existing NBFC of a PSU with Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC), for raising long term debt from domestic as well as overseas sources, including multilateral and bilateral financial institutions.
Energy and sustainability --Environment Directorate to be constituted and detailed energy audit for energy saving. Procuring power through the bidding process which is likely to save at least Rs. 3,000 crore in next few years. 1000 MW solar plants will be set up by the developers on Railway/private land and Railway buildings with subsidy/viability gap funding support of Ministry of Non-Renewable Energy in next five years.
Transparency and Governance initiatives --System of on-line applications introduced and e-procurement value chain being expanded. Constituting a mechanism for making regulations, setting performance standards, determining tariffs & adjudicating disputes among licensees/private partners and the Ministry, subject to review in appeal.
Social initiatives --Infrastructure to be made available for skill development and promotion of products made by Self Help Groups, consisting mainly of women and youth on the model of Konkan Railway.
Tourism --Incredible Rail for Incredible India to be launched and training of auto-rickshaw and taxi-operators as tourist-guides on the model of Konkan Railway. Coaches in select trains connecting major tourist destinations to travel agencies may be offered on a revenue sharing model. Gandhi circuit to be used to attract tourists to mark the occasion of 100 years of the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa; IRCTC will work on Kisan Yatra, a special travel scheme for farmers for farming & marketing technique centres.
Budget Estimates for 2015-16-- Passenger earnings growth is pegged at 16.7% with a target budget at Rs. 50,175 crore. Freight traffic is pegged at an all time high incremental traffic of 85 million tonnes, anticipating a healthier growth in the core sector of economy. Other coaching and sundries are projected at Rs. 4,612 crore and Rs. 7,318 crore. Gross Traffic Receipts has been estimated at Rs 1,83,578 crore with a growth of 15.3%. Appropriation to Pension Fund proposed at Rs 35,260 crore and appropriation to Depreciation Reserve Fund (DRF) at Rs 8,100 crore. Appropriation of Rs 7,616 crore proposed to be made to Capital Fund for payment of principal component of lease charges to IRFC (Indian Railway Finance Corporation). The plan outlay stands at Rs 1,00,011 crore for the year 2015-16 with an increase of 52% over RE 2014-15.