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Rail Budget 2014 Live: No fare hike, 17 new premium trains

12:45 pm: PM says his heart bleeds to see Parliament disrupted

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has come out and spoken about the bedlam in the House. And it seems, Singh was quite upset about the proceedings.

"My heart bleeds to see what is happening in the House," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was quoted as saying by PTI.

"It is sad for democracy that such things are happening
after all appeals for calm," Singh said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has also said that today's proceedings would set a bad precedent for Parliament for the future.

12:30 pm: No passenger fare hike, 17 new premium trains

Ok so all is not lost and we're getting some details about what the Railway Minister wanted to say but didn't manage to say. Here are some of them:

- Passenger fares to remain unchanged

- Freight rates have also been left untouched

- The Railway Minister has also announced that there will be 17 new premium trains and 38 passenger trains

- Indian Rail Finance Corporation to raise Rs 12,800 crore from the market in FY15

- The Railway Minister forsees Rs 6,005 crore coming through Private-public partnership projects in the upcoming year

- Gross Traffic receipts for FY15 are estimated at Rs 1.61 lakh crore

- Budgetary support for FY15 is estimated at Rs 30,200 crore in an outlay of Rs 64,305 crore

12:20 pm: Rail budget submitted to Lok Sabha, Parliament adjourned

Finally after trying to labour through the speech, Kharge has given the entire speech as read and jumped directly to the last paragraph of the budget even as Telangana MPs began targeting him.

He ended with a poem but had to resort to screaming to be heard. Having managed to read out at least that much, he commended the interim rail budget to the Lok Sabha.

Parliament was quickly adjourned till tomorrow. By far the most anti-climatic railway budget in the last five years and we've got to wait for the formal document to know what exact details of this interim budget.

12:15 pm: Freight corridors, new line to Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya

The minister said that the eastern and western freight corridors can be expected soon.

Railways successfully met the requirements of the sixth pay commission and has given Rs one lakh crore so far, Kharge said.

"The capital of Arunachal Pradesh will be on the train map in this financial year," Kharge said, adding that the funds would be provided by the Prime Minister's office.

He said that Meghalaya would also be brought into the Indian Railways map with a new railway line.

12:05 pm: Kharge begins presenting railway budget, but is barely audible

Kharge has thanked Sonia Gandhi for the responsibility that he has been given but is barely audible amidst the ruckus.

The minister is talking about how the tracks have been double, electrification increased, locomotives acquired by the Indian Railways.

12:00 pm: Railway Budget to be disrupted by Telangana?

Protests over the creation of Telangana are still on in the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament. Will it derail the rail budget as well?

There are MPs in the well of the Lok Sabha and holding up banners against the creation of the new state. MPs across party lines can be seen standing up even as Kharge starts delivering the railway budget.

The Speaker is attempting to restore calm but the anti-Telangana MPs are in no mood to relent.

11:30 am: 'Don't expect path-breaking announcements in Rail budget'

Titagarh Wagons  ’ vice-chairman Umesh Choudhary does not expect path-breaking announcements from the Interim Railway Budget, to be presented today.

“We are hoping to see some initiatives towards the projects that have already been announced… big-ticket projects like the dedicated freight corridor, although we have seen some momentum, but they need to be implemented in a more time-bound fashion,” he told CNBC-TV 18’s Latha Venkatesh.

He said the industry would definitely like to see some announcements aimed towards the growth of railway traffic. He thinks that there’s a little possibility of reducing passenger rail fares, but feels that Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge may introduce variable passenger component.

Meanwhile, ahares of rail stocks are rallying ahead of interim Rail Budget. Shares of Kalindee Rail Nirman (Engineers)  , Texmaco Rail and Engineering  , Kernex Microsystems (India)  , Titagarh Wagons jumped 2-4 percent intraday on Wednesday.

11. 00 am: Rahul Gandhi promises to take up problems of porters ahead of Rail budget

A day before the railway budget, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday reached out to the porter community and promised to take up their problems and demands with Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge.

Interacting with dozens of porters at the New Delhi Railway Station here, Gandhi said he wants to hear their problems in detail.

"I want to build a relationship with you, I want to hear your problems in detail," he told the porters, according to tweets from the Indian National Congress' official Twitter handle.

"I can only promise one thing. I'll do whatever I can for you, with my heart. I will take your problems to the railway ministry so that they can solve your problems," he said.

"Your time is your money and you have spent your money by giving me your time," Gandhi added.

To the porters' demand for a complimentary pass for the entire family not once but twice in a year, he promised to take it up with Kharge.

Gandhi, who has been interacting with members of marginalised sections, also promised them that they should get immediate compensation if they met with an accident during the course of their work.

The Congress leader also said that they should get their "right" so that they could provide security to themselves and to their families.

10. 30 am: Kharge won't tinker with passenger fares?

Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge is unlikely to tinker with basic passenger fares but may announce some new trains and measures to improve services in the interim railway budget to be presented in parliament Wednesday, just a few months before the general elections to be held by May.

This will be Kharge's maiden budget and the last railway budget of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government during the current term of the Lok Sabha.

However, sources told IANS that the government may announce some adjustments in fuel subsidy that might lead to marginal reduction in fares.

10.24 am: Passenger safety likely to be top priority 

Railway Minister Kharge is likely to have passenger safety at the top of his agenda. Among the measures that are likely to be announced are installation of fire safety systems, more use of fire-retardant material in the coaches and further implementation of Train Collision Avoidance System.

10:00 am: Kharge to reverse his seven-month-long inaction?

A Business Standard report points out that since he became Railway Minister Kharge has done little to change policy at Indian Railways.

It's unlikely to change with this budget. But he will leave behind a mess for his successor to sort out. Wouldn't be the first time.

9:30 am: Budget copies arrive at Parliament

7:30 am: Expect no passenger fare increase, more trains

Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge will not bring about reduction in basic passenger fares in the interim budget tomorrow but is likely to make adjustment in fuel adjustment component so that impact on fares is minimum in an election year.

Kharge is likely to announce more trains, new lines and better passenger amenities in the interim budget, reports PTI.

Railway Ministry sources said it will be a growth-oriented budget and not a deficit one despite fall in earnings.

 Rail Budget 2014 Live: No fare hike, 17 new premium trains

This will be Kharge's first rail budget. Image courtesy: PIB

Freight and passenger earnings have shown a decline during the April-December 2013 period. While freight earnings are short by about Rs 850 cr, the decrease in passenger revenue is about Rs 4000 cr.

Kharge is likely to announce measures for better amenities and safety for passengers while at the same time undertaking steps to improve the fiscal position.

The announcement of running 20 premier trains on dynamic fares as a step to arrest the fall in passenger revenue is likely to be made.

In a bid to give passengers relief from the impending fare hike in April due to implementation of fuel adjustment component (FAC), Kharge is also likely to make some adjustment in FAC so that impact on passenger fares is minimum.

The interim rail budget will also focus on electrification of more routes so that dependence on diesel is less.

Railways are likely to take up about 1500 km route for electrification in the next fiscal. Currently, only about 24,000 km is electrified out of the total 65,000 km route.

In his first budget presentation, Kharge will talk about the progress and development work undertaken by the national transporter in the last ten years.

Since Lok Sabha elections are around the corner, there are demands from many zones and MPs for new trains and Kharge has conceded to some demands. As a result, survey of new lines, extension and increase of frequency of certain train services are also to be announced in the vote-on-account statement.

The vote-on-account is likely to mention the expeditious work on coaching complex for maintenance facility at Gulberga.

On the mega project front, Kharge will mention the speedy work on dedicated freight corridor and work sanction on the 66 km long Mughalsarai and Sonnagar link as part of the project.

Kharge has expressed serious concern over falling revenue and categorically asked officials to undertake all possible steps to arrest the further fall in earnings in the recent General Managers meeting.

The minister is also likely to address the issue of fire mishaps in trains in the recent past by rolling out plans for anti-fire measures in some trains.

Beside, he is expected to focus on more passenger-friendly measures like installation of upgraded real-time train information system at stations and operation of automatic ticket vending machines at many stations.

The Railway Minister is likely to refrain from announcing any populist measures given the financial condition of the national transporter.

While the working expenses have gone up by about Rs 5,000 crore during April-December period, the revenue earnings have decreased by over Rs 4,000 crore.

Though Railways have set a target of reaching 38 percent of total cargo traffic in the 12th Plan, the cargo share of railways is expected to fall by two to three percent this year.

There is also a fall in passenger bookings during April-December period which is a cause of worry for the national transporter.

Kharge, perceived to be a reformist, has taken many bold steps to increase the revenue like allowing fuel adjustment component in passenger and freight fares, increasing Duronto fares and revising Rajdhani catering charges.

He had also allowed dynamic fares in special trains to encash the increased demand of berths in Delhi-Mumbai sector as a pilot project.

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Updated Date: Feb 12, 2014 13:01:22 IST