New Delhi: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is ready to deliver his second Budeget speech in less than an hour from now. The minister on Wednesday said that the rail budget will cater to the needs of all "satisfactorily" as a lot of effort has gone into its preparation.
"The Rail Budget we have prepared is in the interest of the nation and railways," said Prabhu, who will present his second Rail Budget on Thursday in Parliament after assuming charge of the ministry.
"We have tried to meet the needs of all satisfactorily. A lot of effort has gone into making the budget. We have taken the ground reality into consideration before finalising it," he said.
Efforts are on to generate revenue for railways through non-tariff sources like advertising, commercialisation of surplus land, official sources said, adding that a separate directorate is being planned for this purpose.
"Diesel price is on the decline. Passenger bookings and goods loadings are also on downslide. So at this moment hiking freight rate and passenger fares will affect the Railways adversely," sources in railways said, adding "fare hike can be effected anytime after budget also, if required and it is not necessary that it has to be done only in the budget."
Besides, Prabhu will also have to take call on whether to impose safety cess for strengthening safety measures to
However, railways have already decided to run as many special trains on higher fares in popular routes catering to
the growing demand during festive season, an indirect way of hiking fares.The cross-subsidy from freight to passenger operation has crossed Rs 30,000 cr this year while the Seventh Pay Commission burden is about Rs 32,000 crore.
Railways have earned Rs 136,079.26 crore as against the target of Rs 141,416.05 crore during April-January period, a decline of 3.77 percent.
Railways had effected a 14 percent across-the-board hike in passenger fares in 2014 during the NDA regime and a 10 percent increase last year. However, despite the grim economic condition, the Railway Budget is expected to focus on massive capacity creation in the rail sector with an increased plan outlay of about Rs 1.25 lakh crore.
With PTI input