THE RAILWAY BUDGET OF INDIA 2015-16

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The Railway Budget of the Government of India was announced by the Railway Minister of India, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu at the Indian Parliament in New Delhi on February 26, 2015 at precisely 1:00 pm. Here, are the highlights and all the features backed up and mentioned in the annual budget by Prabhu, for all-round development of the Indian Railways(IR) respectively:-

Thrust:-

The IR has become the prime mover of the Indian economy. There is resource mobilisation for higher investments, decongestion of heavy haul routes and speeding up of trains, more emphasis on gauge conversion, doubling, tripling and electrification of tracks, consistent project delivery and improved passenger amenities and much safer and more transparent one. Hence, Indian Railways today continue to be the most preferred mode of transport for the masses.

The four goals required for Indian Railways to transform over the next five years are:-
a) To deliver a sustained and measurable improvement in customer experience.
b) To make IR a safer means of travel comprehensively.
c) To expand IR’s capacity substantially and modernise infrastructure, by increasing daily passenger carrying capacity from 20 million to 40 million, to increase track length by 20%
from 1,14,000 km to 1,38,000 km by 2016 and to grow the annual freight carrying capacity from 1 billion to 2 billion tonnes.
d) Finally, to make Indian Railways financially self-sustainable by generating large surpluses from operations not only to service the debt needed to fund capacity expansion, but also to invest on an ongoing basis to replace the depreciating assets.

Building Partnerships:-

This will require partnering with key stakeholders like the states, PSUs, multi-lateral and bi-lateral organizations and other governments to gain access to long term financing and technology from overseas, private sector for improving last mile connectivity and to expand fleet of rolling stock and modernize station infrastructure.

Leveraging additional resources:-

IR envisages an investment of Rs. 8.5 lakh crore in the next five years to be mobilized from multiple sources to cater to funding i.e multi-lateral development banks and pension funds.

Revamping management practices, systems, processes and retooling of human resources:-

The targeted operating ratio for 2015-16 is 88.5% against 91.8% in 2014-15, which is the best in the last nine years. Also, IR will speed up decision making, tighten accountability, improve management information systems, training and development of human resources.

To set standards for Governance and Transparency:-

Eleven major thrust areas of the IR’s ‘Action Plan’ are:-

  • Quality of life in journeys.
  • Cleanliness with the motto – ‘Swachh Rail, Swachh Bharat’, new department for cleanliness, integrated cleaning by engaging professional agencies and training staff, ‘waste to energy’ conversion plants and new toilets covering 650 additional stations compared to 120 stations in 2014-15.
  • A 24×7 helpline number 138 will be set up alongwith a toll-free number 182 for security related complaints.
  • Ticketing operations will be electronically developed, maximum five minutes for issuing unreserved tickets, hot buttons for coin vending machines, single destination teller machines, concessional e-tickets for differently abled travelers, developing a multi-lingual e-portal, crediting of refunds through banks, proliferation of automatic ticket vending machines with smart cards and currency options, integrated ticketing system on the lines of rail-cum-road tickets and a Defence Travel System will be developed for elimination of warrants.
  • E-catering will be adopted for selecting meals from an array of choices, ordering food through the IRCTC website at the time of booking of tickets, integrating best food chains into this project, setting up of ‘Base Kitchens’ in specified divisions to be run by reputed agencies for serving quality food and expansion of water vending machines.
  • Hand-held terminals to Travelling Ticket Examiners(TTEs) for verification of passengers and downloading charts will be required, possibility of extending facility of SMS on mobiles as a valid proof of travel for PRS tickets and an integrated customer portal as a single interface to access different services. Also, there will be an introduction of a centrally managed Railway Display Network in over 2000 stations in the next two years, and an “SMS Alert” service will be developed to inform passengers in advance of the updated arrival/departure time of trains at all starting or destination stations.
  • Surveillance cameras will be provided on a pilot basis in selected mainline coaches and ladies’ compartments of suburban coaches without intruding into privacy. A new project for introducing on-board entertainment on select Shatabdi trains on license fee basis will be launched. Mobile phone charging facilities will be provided in general class coaches and increased in sleeper class coaches.
  • 200 more stations will come under the Adarsh Station scheme, Wi-Fi kiosks will be set up and to provided at all ‘B’ category stations, plus a facility of self-operated lockers will be made available at all stations, provision of concierge services will be done through IRCTC at major stations and online booking of wheelchairs will be done on a payment basis for senior citizens, patients and the differently-abled passengers at select stations.
  • The capacity in all identified trains will be augmented to run with 26 coaches and more General Class coaches will be added in identified trains.
  • Rs. 120 crore for new lifts and escalators at all major junctions, newly manufactured coaches will be Braille-enabled and wider entrances for the ease of differently-abled passengers of railway stations.
  • Corporate houses and MPs will be requested to invest in improving passenger amenities at railway stations through CSR and MPLAD funds and every Divisional Committee in each railway zone will be chaired by the Members of Parliament.

Station Redevelopment:-

  • Station redevelopment policy will be revamped and processes will be further simplified by inviting open bids, present stations will be available for development on “as is where is” basis, to exploit the space and air rights on concession basis.
  • Zonal and divisional offices will be empowered for quicker decision making and land will not be sold for personal purposes. Also, there will be development of 10 satellite railway terminals in major cities of India with twin purpose of decongesting the city and providing service to suburban passengers.

Network expansion:-

  • Decongesting networks with basket of traffic generating projects is the topmost priority and also for last mile connectivity projects. Fast track sanctioned works on 7000 km of double/third/fourth lines and commissioning 1200 km in 2015-16 at an investment of Rs. 8686 crore.
  • Commissioning 800 km of gauge conversion targeted in current fiscal year.
  • 77 projects covering 9400 km of doubling/tripling/quadrupling works along with electrification, covering all states of India at a cost of Rs. 96,182 crore, which is over 2700% higher in terms of amount sanctioned.
  • Traffic facility works is a top priority with an outlay of Rs. 2374 crore.
  • In the North East states, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh will be brought on the Railway Map of India and direct connectivity to New Delhi will be provided.
  • Awards of 750 km of civil contracts and 1300 km of system contracts given in 2015-16 on Dedicated Freight Corridors(DFCs) and a 55 km section of Eastern DFC to be completed in the current year. Preliminary Engineering cum Traffic Survey(PETS) for four other DFCs is in progress.
  • 6608 km electrified and sanctioned for 2015-16, which is an increase of 1330% over the previous year.

Expansion of Freight Handling Capacity:-

  • Transport Logistics Corporation of India(TRANSLOC) will to be set up for developing common user facilities with handling and value-added services, to provide end-to-end logistics solution at select railway terminals through Public-Private Partnerships.
  • For the benefit of the farmers, a state-of-the-art Perishable Cargo Centre is under completion at the Azadpur Mandi in New Delhi with a scientific banana-ripening centre.
  • An air cargo sector will be developed to facilitate and integrate the movement of air cargo between railway stations and the gateway airports.
  • Policy for Private Freight Terminals (PFT) will be revised.
  • Automatic Freight Rebate Scheme for traffic will be expanded in the current fiscal year.
  • Long haul freight operations will be used extensively and construction of long loop lines will be expedited.
  • Distributed power system for multi-loco haulage will be accelerated.

Improving Train Speed:-

  • Speed of nine railway corridors will be increased from existing 110-130 kmph to 160-200 kmph respectively so that inter-metro journeys like Delhi-Kolkata and Delhi-Mumbai can be completed overnight.
  • Average speed of freight trains in empty and loaded conditions will be enhanced to 100 kmph for empty freight trains and 75 kmph for loaded trains. Loading density on all major freight bearing routes will be upgraded to 22.82 tonne axle loads.

Bullet trains:-

  • Feasibility study for High Speed Rail between Mumbai-Ahmedabad is in the advanced stage and report expected by end of 2015. For other high speed routes on the Diamond Quadrilateral, studies are being commissioned.

Upgrading manufacturing capabilities:-

  • Creation of job opportunities by upgrading the manufacturing capability.
  • Functioning of Indian Railways Production Units and Workshops would be reviewed to provide them a cutting edge.
  • Measures for technological upgradation and enhancing productivity will be undertaken to make them self-sustaining.

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Safety Onboard:-

  • An action plan is being prepared for areas where accidents occur frequently. A five-year corporate safety plan is expected by June 2015, indicating annual quantifiable targets.
  • Pending recommendations made by High Level Safety Review Committee headed by Dr. Kakodkar Committee will be examined by April 2015.
  • RDSO(Railway Development Space Organisation) will develop a suitable device with reliable power supply system based on theft-proof panels and batteries in consultation with Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO), using geo-spatial technology for providing audio-visual warning to road users at unmanned level crossings.
  • Radio-based signal design project has been taken up with the IIT Kanpur for warnings at unmanned level crossings.
  • 970 ROB/RUBs and other safety-related works will be done to eliminate 3438 level crossings at a total railway expense of Rs. 6581 crore, which have been sanctioned.
  • Train Protection Warning System and Train Collision Avoidance System will be installed on select routes at the earliest.
  • Modern track structure consisting of sleepers and heavier rails are being used while carrying out primary track renewals. Better welding techniques are being promoted and digital type machines will replace analogue type machines.

Technology Upgradation:-

  • Constituting an innovation council called ‘Kayakalp’ for business re-engineering and introducing a spirit of innovation in Railways.
  • A technology portal is being constituted to invite innovative technological solutions.
  • Strengthening of RDSO into an organization of excellence for applied research.
  • Four Railway Research Centers will be set up in select universities for fundamental research and ‘Malaviya Chair’ for Railway Technology will be set up at all IITs and in BHU.
  •  A Consortium of the Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Science And Technology and Industries is on to take up identified railway projects for research.
  • An IT vision to be unveiled, information on latest berth availability station navigation system will be available. Barcoded tracking of parcels and freight wagons, automated parcel warehouses and integration of train control and asset management applications will all be done respectively.

Developmental Partnerships:-

  • The PPP cell will be revamped to make it result-oriented.
  • Projects for rail connectivity to many ports and mines are being developed under participative models and simplification of procedures and consistency of policy will be ensured.
  • A “Foreign Rail Technology Cooperation scheme” will be launched soon.
  • Joint ventures will be set up with states for focused project development, resource mobilisation, land acquisition, project implementation and monitoring of critical rail projects.

Improvements to Management Processes and Systems:-

  • System audits will be conducted for review of all processes and procedures.
  • Global benchmarks for key operating and maintenance activities will be set up.
  • Improving appraisal mechanism for the selection of projects and introduction of simulation tools for project planning and decision-making.
  • A constitution of a working group to modify present system of accounting will be set up for ensuring tracking of expenditure to desired outcomes.
  • Train operations to be audited.
  • Paperless working in material management system will be expanded.
  • Vendors to be integrated through the Vendor Interface Management System for providing single window interface to vendors.

Human Resources:-

  • A Human Resource Audit will be undertaken and there will be a focused Human Resource strategy to raise employees’ productivity in line with global standards.
  • A special training module on soft skills for frontline staff will be developed so that the customers feel welcomed and satisfied.
  • Setting up a full-fledged Railway University by 2015-16.
  • Improving delivery of health services to employees.

Energy and Sustainability:-

  • An Environment Directorate will be constituted in the Railway Board to give increased focus and thrust on environment management.
  • A Detailed energy audit for energy saving will be done.
  • Procuring power through the bidding process at economical tariff from generating companies, power exchanges, and bilateral arrangements. Such initiative is likely to save at least Rs. 3000 crore in the next five years.
  • Encouraging Solar Power as a part of the Solar Mission of Railways. 1000 MW solar plants will be set up by the developers on railway and private lands and railway buildings with subsidy and viability gap funding support of Ministry of Non-Renewable Energy in the next five years.
  • Water conservation mission including water audit and expansion of water harvesting systems will be done.
  • Accreditation for environment management will be extended.
  • Noise levels of locomotives to be at par with international norms and concerns related to wildlife will  be addressed.
  • Investing in Indian Railways is necessary for the ecological sustenance mainly due to efficiencies of fuel consumption.

Transparency and Governance Initiatives:-

  • A system of online applications will be introduced for two categories of recruitment as a pilot project.
  • All possible solutions will be explored to address the menace of corruption.
  • E-procurement value chain is being expanded.
  • Constituting a mechanism for making regulations, setting performance standards, determining tariffs and adjudicating disputes among licensees and private partners and the Ministry, subject to review in appeal.

Social Initiatives:-

  • Infrastructure-like stations and training centres will be made available for skill development.
  • Indian Railways personnel and their services will also available for this national cause.
  • Promotion of products made by Self Help Groups, consisting mainly of women and youth on the model of Konkan Railway will be done.

Tourism Facilities:-

  • ‘Incredible Rail for Incredible India’ scheme will be launched and promotion of training of auto-rickshaws and taxi-operators as tourist-guides on the model of Konkan Railway.
  • The coaches in select trains connecting major tourist destinations to travel agencies may be offered on a revenue sharing model.
  • IRCTC will start working on promoting the Gandhi circuit to attract tourists to mark the occasion of 100 years of the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa.
  • IRCTC will also work on Kisan Yatra, a special travel scheme for farmers for farming and marketing technique centres.

Budget Estimates for 2015-16:-

  • The intention is to capture increased revenues and ensure appropriate investments so as to decongest the system and enhance line capacity.
  • Passenger earnings growth is pegged at 16.7% and the target budgeted is at Rs. 50,175 crore.
  • Freight traffic is pegged at an all-time high incremental traffic of 85 million tonnes, anticipating a healthier growth in the core sector of economy.
  • Goods earnings is proposed at Rs. 1,21,423 crore which includes rationalisation of rates, commodity classification and distance slabs.
  • Other coaching and sundries are projected at Rs. 4,612 crore and Rs. 7,318 crore.
  • Gross Traffic Receipts are estimated at Rs 1,83,578 crore, which will be a growth of 15.3%.
  • Ordinary Working Expenses proposed to grow at 9.6% over RE 2014-15 and the Traction Fuel Bill is anticipated to shrink further.
  • Higher provisions have been made for safety maintenance and cleanliness, lease charges and interest component of the current and previous market borrowings, at a growth of 21%.
  • Appropriation to Pension Fund is proposed at Rs 35,260 crore and appropriation to DRF is at Rs 8,100 crore.
  • Appropriation of Rs 7,616 crore is proposed to be made to the Capital Fund for payment of principal component of lease charges.

Plan Outlay for the Financial Year 2015-16:-

  • Gross Budgetary Support of Rs 40,000 crore for the IR’s annual plan. Rs 1,645.60 crore has also been provided as Railway’s share of diesel cess from the Central Road Fund. Market borrowings are projected at Rs 17,655 crore, which is an increase of about 46.5%.
  • Balance Plan outlay includes Rs 17,793 crore from Internal Resources and Rs. 5781 crore from PPP. Significantly, IR are allocating large amounts towards Doubling, Traffic Facilities,
    Electrification and Passenger Amenities.
  • The Plan Outlay for the current fiscal year is Rs 1,00,011 crore, which is an increase of 52% over RE 2014-15. It is anticipated that the plan size will get higher once resources from institutional bodies are formalized during the course of the ensuing financial year.
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