New Delhi: Union railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav presented the Interim Railway Budget in Parliament on Friday, a budget estimated to be largely populist as the country heads to general elections.
Listing the ministry’s achievements in the last five years, Lalu said: Railways has scaled new heights under the UPA reign, he also highlighted efforts by the government during this tenure not to burden the common man.
He also cited the fact that there has been a sharp decrease in the number of accidents in Railways since 2003 and stated that the turnaround by the Railways was far different from that achieved by the private enterprises.
Lalu said Railways has seen passenger growth by 4%, following which the ministry has now reduced passenger fares of all trains by 2%, fare of AC and mail express cut by 2% and will start some 43 new trains in the next fiscal.
Railways cash surplus has grown to Rs90,000 crore in the past five years. Lalu also mentioned, due to implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, Railways are expected to incur an additional burden of Rs9,000 crore on salaries and Rs4,500 crore on pensions.
Accounting for the ministry’s expenditure, Lalu said Railways invested Rs36,773 crore in 2008-09 and plans to invest Rs2.30 lakh crore in the next five-year plan.
He explains how freight loading in the current year has come down due to economic downturn because of which revenue has fallen otherwise he expected it to have touched Rs1 lakh crore. Average freight growth has been upto 8% in the last five years and freight earnings rose by 19% till September last year.
Lalu is confident about the coming fiscal and expects Railways to show a surplus of Rs18,847 crore and earning freight revenues at Rs59, 060 crore in the next fiscal.