(Article) Rail Budget 2012-13: Civil Services Mentor Magazine May 2012

Rail Budget 2012-13

An increase in passenger fares across all classes, more than 100 new trains, enhanced frequency or routes for many others, and plansto hiremore than one lakhemployeesweresome of the key Rail Budget proposals made on Wednesday. Presenting the annual Rail Budget for the financial year 2012-13 in Parliament 14th March 2012, Railway MinisterDineshTrivedimade some key proposals.Whilepreparing thebudget he drewheavily fromthe recommendations ofKakodkar committee onrailway safety andPitroda committeeonmodernization of infrastructure. Based on the recommendations of the two committees, Trivedizeroed onfive focus areas:

  1. Track;
  2. Bridges;
  3. Signaling&Telecommunication;
  4. Rolling Stock;
  5. Stations&freight Terminals.

The emphasis on the focus areas would eventuallylead tostrengthening of the basic infrastructure of Indian Railwaysresultinginsafety,decongestion, capacity augmentation and modernization of system, creatingmore efficient, faster and safer railways. Indian Railways Stations Development Corp to be set up to redevelop stations andmaintainthemlike airports. Considering the overall parameters set out in Vision 2020  document, the budget stated that a huge sumof ` 14 lakh crore is required in the next ten years. The total union budget outlay for 2012-13 stood at ` 60100 crore. Informing that 40% of the consequential train accidents, involving 60% to 70% of the total casualties occur at unmanned level crossings, he decided to setup aSpecialPurposeVehicle (SPV) named Rail-Road Grade Separation Corporationof Indiawith anobjective to fast track eliminationof levelcrossings in the next fiveyears.Thedecision to set up a committee to examine the current standards of safety on Indian Railways and to suggest suitable benchmarks and safety protocolswere also announced.

By way of initiating a long term approach to safety and in line with recommendations of the Committee, minister proposed to set up an independentRailway SafetyAuthority as a statutory regulatory body. The functions of the Authority are to be chalked out in line with international practices. In tune with the recommendations of the Expert Group for Modernisation of Indian Railways which suggested following of a ‘Mission Mode’ approach, the budget announced the formation of Missions headed by MissionDirectors ineach oftheidentified areas for a three year term. Also, aHigh Level Committee is to be set up to facilitate coordination amongst the  Missions, fast-trackimplementation, and address bottlenecks. TheUnion Railway Budget proposed a multi-pronged approachwithan objectivetobuildanew, safe andmodern, passenger and freight transportation system which would contribute at least 2 to 2.5% to the GDP of the nation as against less than 1% at present. Multi-pronged approach focused on: Safety; Consoliation; Decongestion&CapacityAugmentation; Modernization; to bring down the Operating Ratio from 95% to 84.9% in 2012-13 and to 74%in the terminal year of 12th Plan.

The12th Planinvestment proposed by Railways at ` 7.35 lakh crore up from the investment during XI Plan of ` 1.92 lakh crore. The required resources for the plan are proposed to bemet by:-

  • Gross Budgetary Support of 2.5 lakh crore;
  • Government support for national projects of 30,000 crore;
  • Ploughing back of dividend of 20,000 crore
  • Internal Resources of 1,99,805 crore
  • Extra Budgetary Resources of 2,18,775 crore vi. Railway Safety Fund of 16,842 crore.

The budget put forth ademand for additional funding assistance of about ` 5 lakh crore under the Pradhan Mantri Rail Vikas Yojana fromthe government. The Union Railway Budget proposed a progressiveshifttoflashbutttechnology forwelding of rails, progressive useof 60 kgrailsinsteadof 52kg, provisionof thick web switches at points & crossings, mechanisedmaintenancewith the latest trackmachines and increased frequency of ultrasonic testing of tracks. Plan to modernize nearly 19000 km track through renewals, upgradation of track, replacementand strengthening of 11,250 bridges torunheavier freight trains of 25 tonne axle loadand to achieve passenger train speeds of 160 kmph and over was proposed in the budget. The estimated expenditure of ` 63212 crore was proposed for the same. Signaling system on Indian Railways will be modernized with the provisioning of advanced technological features.Panel/RouteRelay Interlocking covering 700more stations by 2014 was proposed as a part of the modernization of the signaling system. Provisioning of Train Protection & WarningSystem(TPWS),which ensures automatic application of brakes whenever a driverover-shoots a signal at danger, thereby eliminating chances of collision of trainswas also proposed.

The total cost of various signalling and telecomworkswas estimated tobe ` 39,110 crore in the next 5 years. The railway budget proposed to provide ` 200211 crore in2012-13, which ismore than double the allocation of the current year and the highest ever. Upgradation of coaches including EMUcoaches, locomotives andwagons was noted to be one of the key areas of modernization during the next 5 years for improving safety and convenience & comfort of passengers. The highest ever allocation of ` 18,193 crore was proposed for the 12th five year plan for the purpose of upgradation. Inthe areas of Stationsand FreightTerminals, Trivedi proposed to set up a separate organisation namely Indian Railway StationDevelopmentCorporation,which will redevelop the stations andmaintain them on the pattern of airports. The Union railwayproposed toelectrify 6500 route kilometers during the 12th Plan period.Thiswouldinclude electrification of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla line and henceprovide pollutionfree traction to the pristine Kashmir Valley. An allocation of ` 828 crore has been provided in 2012-13. Propulsion System for use inhigh power electric locomotive wasproposed to be introduced. Initiative to start manufacturing especially designed coaches having earmarked compartments and toilets adapted to the needs of wheel chair borne/differently-abled person was a primefocus of theUnionRailwayBudget. The Union budget proposed to set up a factoryat ShyamnagarinWestBengal on PPP basis for manufacture of next generationtechnology andalso proposed to utilize and augment the electric loco Ancillaries Unit ofCLWbeing set up at Dankuni for fabrication of locomotive shells. Severalmeasureswere initiated/ proposedto promoteclean environment. On the occasion of the 175th Birth Anniversary of Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, propose setting up of a Coaching Terminal to be named after himatNaihati.Also itwas decided that a specialtrainwouldrun acrossthecountry to disseminate his legacy to the young generation. Institution of a Rail Khel Ratna Award was also proposed to honour 10 sports-persons every year, based ontheir current performance. The awardeeswould be providedworld class training to hone theirskills further.

Salient features of Railway Budget are as follows:

  • To set up an independent Railway SafetyAuthorityas astatutory body.
  • The opendischarge toiletson trains to be replaced with green (bio) toilets.
  • All unmanned level crossings to be abolished in next five years; To target zero deaths due to rail accidents.
  • To provide rail connectivity to neighbouring countries, a new line from Agartala to Akura in Bangladesh to be set up.
  • Double-decker container trains to be introduced.
  • Steps to improve cleanliness and hygiene ontrainsandstationswithin six months. A special house keeping body to be set up to take care of both stations and trains.
  • New passenger services include escalators at major stations, alternative train accommodation forwait-listed passengers, laundry services, AC lounges, coin/ currency operated ticket vending machines.
  • Two new members, one for marketing, and other for safety, to be inducted intoRailway Board.
  • On board passenger displays indicating next halt station and expected arrival time to be introduced.
  • Introduction of regional cuisine; Book-a-meal scheme to provide meals through SMS or email.
  • Specially designed coaches for differently-abled persons to be provided in each Mail/Express trains.
  • Railway Tariff RegulatoryAuthority to be considered.
  • National High Speed Rail Authority to be set up; Pre-feasibility studies on six high speed corridors completed; study on Delhi-Jaipur- Ajmer-Jodhpur to be taken up in 2012-13.

Rail Fare Hikes

  • passenger fares by 2 paise per km – suburban and ordinary second class,
  • 3 paise per km for mail/express second class,
  • 5 paise per kmfor sleeper class,
  • 10 paise per kmforACChair Car, AC 3 tier and First Class,
  • 15 paise per kmfor AC 2 tier
  • 30 paise per kmfor AC I.

Few New plans on Railway Budget 2012 :

  • Bio-toilets,
  • Special housekeeping body to enhance hygiene and cleanliness,
  • Newcatering policy,
  • Specially designed coaches earmarked for wheelchair borne and differently-abled passengers,
  • Threecentresfortraining personnel in disaster management and to integrate RailwayProtection Force (RPF) helpline with all passenger helplines,
  • Satellitebased realtime information of trains,
  • Introduction of escalators,
  • Book a meal,
  • AC lounge,
  • Extensionof housekeeping,
  • Mobile booking,
  • Alternate train accommodation systemforwait listed passengers.

However, inan expectedmove the controversial hike in rail passenger fares was on 22ndMarch 2012 rolled back for allclasses exceptAC2TierandFirstClass by the newRailwayMinisterMukul Roy, overturning the decision of his predecessorDineshTrivedi, who lost his job on account of his bold proposals. Mukul Roy, who was inducted into the UnionCabinetand theRailwayMinistry on 20th March 2012, announced in the Lok Sabha the roll back of the fare increase for second class suburban and non-suburban, Sleeper, AC Chair Car andAC3-tier,dubbing itas a“huge drain” on the pocket of masses. He, however, left untouched the increase of 15 paise per kmand 30 paise per kmrespectively in passenger fares inAC 2-tier andAC-I announced by Trivedi in the Railway Budget only lastweek. TheMinister did not give the financial implications of the roll back decision. In his budget, Trivedi had assumed an income of ` 4,000 crore on account of the hike but reversal of the decision could result in a loss of `3,000 crore, officials said. Replying to the debate on the Budget, Roy also put on hold Trivedi’s proposal of setting up a committee to examine whether there should be an independent tariff regulatoryauthorityand scrappedamove to expand the Railway Board. Roy said the proposal to increase fare by 2 paise per km, 3 paise per km and 5 paise per km in second class suburban and nonsuburban and Sleeper class is a huge drain on the pocket of the masses. “Similarly, increasein thefareofACChair Car and AC 3-tier, which is now patronisedbythemiddleclass, isalsoquite severe.”