The rail budget 2016 to be presented by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday, may include a slew of measures to ensure quality travel including expansion of e-catering to all important stations beyond the 42 already covered and in more trains. Budget is expected to focus on capacity creation in the rail sector with an increased outlay of about Rs. 1.25 lakh crore. While announcement of new trains is unlikely for the second consecutive year, a scheme for premium high-speed parcel trains may be included in the Budget.
For the last few years, Indian Railways has been facing a tremendous strain financially due to falling revenue collection and increasing demand to fund various capacity augmentation projects. At the same time, there is a need for urgent improvement of passenger services which requires increasing of fares which is a move that is staunchly opposed by a section of the railway ministry. The number of employees in the Railways, India’s largest employer and one of the world’s ten largest, has barely grown since 1950, but as government salaries grow, so has the wage bill.
The budget is set to focus on delivering concrete results – high-speed trains running at speeds of 160-200 kmph,
better passenger amenities, quality food and safer travel by 2019. The minister is also likely to announce the much talked about National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) for running bullet trains along with a new train for low income passengers.
In a go green move, which will also see it cut down on expenses, the Railway Ministry will be using 12 lakh A4 sheets less in presenting its Budget for the next fiscal, relying on IT tools instead to convey the information.
Rail Budget 2016 – Expectations for Kerala
In the previous budgets, since the term of UPA government, development of rail infrastructure in Kerala was almost denied by the lobbying from Chennai, Southern Railway Headquarters. Since its influence no more works on NDA government, Kerala expects a significant amount will be designated for safety upgrading, electrification, doubling and modernisation of yards to clear traffic bottlenecks and Suburban Train Service.