New Delhi: The Railway Budget is expected to focus on massive capacity creation in the rail sector with an increased outlay of about Rs 1.25 lakh crore.
A significant amount will be earmarked for safety upgrade, 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 unlikely 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," said sources.
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 Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have signed MoUs with the railways for forming joint ventures.
While announcement of new trains is unlikely for a 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 higher fares on many special trains in service.
The railways have earned Rs 136,079.26 crore against the target of Rs 141,416.05 crore, a decline of 3.77 percent. In suburban section, the Rail Budget will announce introduction of air-conditioned suburban trains in Mumbai, which will be replicated in other areas as well. The fare of air-conditioned suburban service will be higher than regular local train.
Prabhu will give details about the efforts of the railways to keep stations and trains clean and environment-friendly in his second budget speech in Parliament on 25 February.
All 400 stations being planned to be developed with private participation are likely to be announced as "green stations". They will have environment-friendly measures like generation of solar energy, recycling of water, conversion of waste to energy and use of LED lights, incorporated in the plan.
Targeting rail users and industry, Prabhu will announce a few schemes on passenger amenities and freight businesses. The Rail Budget will highlight the use of technology for improving services and catering for passengers, since Prabhu is keen on improving the food quality on rail premises.