Railway Budget 2016-17 : No Hike in Rail Fares, Increase in Quota for Senior Citizens,Women

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New Delhi : The Union Railway Budget 2016-17 concentrated on capacity creation in the rail segment, with an expanded expense of about Rs. 1.21 lakh crore, and on finish of the continuous undertakings instead of announcing new ones. Developing 2015’s measure, traveler’s fare remain the same.

Mr. Prabhu’s announcements included India’s first rail auto hub, boost to e-catering, connectivity to North-East and Wi-Fi in railway stations.

Prabhu announced several initiatives to expand railways’ reach and efficiency. These include creation of dedicated rail corridors, improving railway infrastructure and revamping the suburban railways system. In fiscal year 2017, there are 44 new partnership projects planned covering 5,300 km worth Rs 92,714 crore and creation of two locomotive factories with a total investment of Rs 40,000 crore.

But, the big question remains without hike in fares can Prabhu address the constrained balance sheet of the railways, particularly in the face of a massive spending burden on account of 7th Pay Commission implementation, cost over-run of delayed projects and other expenses.

Prabhu expects Rs 1.5 lakh crore help from LIC over next five years and going overseas with rupee bonds to raise funds.

Already, railways have felt the heat of subsidising passenger fares with freight segment, a strategy criticised by most experts. Prabhu has hinted that the freight rates will be revised. In 2015-16, railways has suffered a loss of Rs 30,000 crore on account of subsidising passenger fares.

Gross budgetary support, Prabhu expects, to be around Rs 40,000 core in FY17. Prabhu has set a gross traffic earnings target of Rs 1.85 lakh crore.

Prabhu’s budget shows the government’s intent to transform Railways as a crucial engine to economic growth and change the country as a high-growth manufacturing economy among emerging markets.