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Discussions initiated on rail budget

Ministry’s interaction with public in Local Circles is taking communication to the next level

By now several hundreds of people may have started receiving in their inboxes an e-mail from Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu highlighting the importance of Railways as the ‘backbone of India’s economic development’ and seeking suggestions from rail users to improve the largest transportation and logistics network in the world.

However, it is the Ministry’s interaction with the public in Local Circles, a social media network, which is taking communication to the next level. The latest post addressed to its 1.5 lakh members is the first round of inputs on what could be the focus of Railway Budget 2016-17.

The public can review them and include additional specific inputs. Stating that it is a first set of 14 inputs, the post says that a coach should be reserved for women in all trains and that railway land and quarters should be sold or leased to generate more revenue.

Another is increasing the speed of existing trains in a phased manner and installation of CCTV cameras inside trains and stations.

Food in trains

There is a proposal to rope in bigger names such as Haldirams and Sagar Ratna to improve the quality of food served in trains. Similarly, it proposes to establish basic facilities such as drinking water, waiting room, clean toilets and food stalls at all stations.

Instead of revising fares, a cleaning cess of up to 10 per cent may be imposed in sleeper and higher classes. It has mooted to replace all lights inside trains and stations with LEDs. Suggestions have been sought on more chargeable retiring rooms and constructing them on the upper floors of the stations.

Likewise, package and pilgrimage tours need to be strengthened. The ongoing projects should be reviewed and the ones which could yield profits quickly should implemented on a priority basis.

Modernising the freight system and introduction of online parcel bookings are other things put up for discussion. It also says that Railways should open itself as a medium for extensive advertisements and it should introduce a nationwide cold storage chain service around railway station on public–private participation mode to increase earnings.

 http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/discussions-initiated-on-rail-budget/article8056694.ece
 
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Posted by on January 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Railways in talks with World Bank for infra fund

Railway Ministry is in talks with the World Bank to set up a long term infrastructure fund as it looks to invest Rs 8.56 lakh crore to modernise the creaky infrastructure of the country’s biggest public utility.

A financing cell created by Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu consisting of country’s ace financial sector experts such as Arundhati Bhattacharya of SBI and Rajiv Lall of IDFC among others to advise the ministry on the blue print of the proposed fund.

A source close to the development told Bloomberg TV India that talks are going on with the World Bank to set up a long-term fund. “The bank will act as an anchor investor. The facility will attract low cost long term global pension as well as insurance funds,” the official said.

In his Rail Budget, Prabhu has set a target of Rs 8.56 lakh crore capital investment in the next five years for the infrastructure facelift of the railways.

The ministry has prioritized investment in declogging the trunk routes. “The ministry is looking at debt funds for declogging the network. We will first target the trunk routes and the routes that carry steel, cement and coal. The idea is to maximize the revenues,” an official said.

Railway has already tied up with the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for Rs 1.5 lakh crore spread over the next five years. Divulging more on the deal, another railway ministry official said “Railways will identify the projects and keep sending funding requisition to the LIC, which will grant the funds at 8.5 per cent rate of interest. With the World Bank too, we would like to strike a deal for lower cost of funding. The idea is to keep a watch on low cost funds.”

This is the first time that the Indian Railways is doing some out-of-the-box thinking as far as fund raising is concerned. The transport behemoth till now was dependant on budgetary allocation, internal generation and dividend.

With a massive investment plan, Railways targets to raise passenger and freight traffic by about 50 per cent in five years–daily passenger carrying capacity is targeted at 30 million from the present 21 million while freight carrying capacity is to raise from 1 billion tonne to 1.5 billion tonne.

The Railways plans to invest Rs 1.99 lakh crore in the next five years for dedicated freight corridor, electrification and doubling of tracks, while another Rs 1.93 lakh crore will go into network expansion. The country’s largest public utility will also spend Rs 1.27 lakh crore for rail safety including track renewal, bridges and signaling and another Rs 1.2 lakh crore for rolling stock—locos, wagons and coaches. Railways Budget also provided for Rs 65,000-crore investment for high speed rail and elevated corridors.

Btvin

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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ECR executes 12 projects within 36 days of rail budget

Railways has executed at least 39 of the total schemes announced during the 2015-2016 rail budget within 36 days. E-samiksha, a new website to keep a tab on the successful functioning of these projects under the direct supervision of railway minister Suresh Prabhu and minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha, has also been launched.

ECR CPRO Arvind Rajak said, “At least 12 schemes have been implemented on priority basis under our zone. A team of railway officials has been assigned the task of ensuring cleanliness on platforms and coaches on running trains.” Disposable bags for garbage have been provided at all major stations falling under ECR. Railways has also started manufacturing new non-AC coaches that are fitted with dustbins , he added. “ECR has launched security helpline number 182 and has also ensured availability of unreserved tickets within five minutes to a passenger from all major stations. The e-catering system that has begun in at least 134 trains is quite helpful to passengers. Railways also intends to launch the e-ticketing portal in Hindi soon,” Rajak said. Surveillance cameras have been installed at all major stations, including Patna Junction.

TOI

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Rail Budget and Indian Railways: 7 amazing facts you shouldn’t miss

Rail Budget is the Annual Financial Statement of the state Indian Railways which handles rail transport. It is presented every year by the Minister of Railways, representing the Ministry of Railways in the Parliament.It is presented every year a few days prior to the introduction of the Union Budget of India. The Union Budget of India is always introduced on the last working day of the month of February.

In 2015 the focus of the Rail budget is on conceptual issues like building escalators, toilets on all stations across India. Railways has also proposed to set up food courts at major stations, improving of RO drinking facilities across all stations, CCTV installation and management  to monitor cleanliness activities and a separate housekeeping wing has also been assured to manage cleanliness of food products, amenities and drinking water after recent media reports emerged exposing the poor state of affairs of the food standards of the Indian Railways.

Here are 7 lesser known facts about the Railways and its Budget :

1. As per the recommendation of the ten member Acworth Committee in 1920-21 headed by British railway economist William Acworth, the Acworth report led to the reorganization of Railways. The Railways finances of India were separated from the general government finances in 1924. Since then Indian Rail Budget and the Union Budget of India are introduced separately every year.

2. The first ever live telecast of the Railway budget took place on March 24, 1994.

3.  Under article 112 and rule 204 of the India Constitution  the budget is presented in two distinct parts namely the Railways Budget pertaining to Railway finance and the General budget of India which gives an overall picture of the financial position of the Government of India excluding the Indian railways.

4. Lalu Prasad Yadav who was the Rail Minister from 2004 to 2009 presented the Rail budget a record six times in a row under his five year tenure a record 108 billion rupees budget was passed.

5. In 2000 Mamta Banarjee who is currently the CM of West Bengal became the first women Railways Minister of India, and in year 2002 she was the first female Minister of Railways to present the Rail budget. She also holds the distinction of being the only women who presented the railway budget for two different governments at the centre National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

6. The Indian Railways is the largest employer in the world, means it provides the highest number of jobs amongst all the sectors and departments throughout the world.

7. The first passenger train under the tag name of Indian Railways ran on April 16, 1853 between Bombay and Thane. The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) located in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi  introduced Computer reservation system for the first time in July 1986 by the Ministry of Railways of India. The busiest Railway station is Lucknow which witnesses more than 64 trains daily ; the longest running time for a train is held currently by Vivek Express (Nearly 72 hours ; 3715 kilometers). The longest railway platform in the World is Kharagpur which is 2,733 feet in length and the fastest train in the Indian Railway network is the Bhopal-Shatabdi which runs at a speed of around 150 km/hr.

India Today

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Expect a practical rail budget aimed at revenue generation’

With the rail budget for 2015-16 being announced shortly the officials of the North Western Railway (NWR) are expecting positive measures to increase revenue. If senior officers and experts are to be believed there are not going to be many sops in this budget as this time it will be a practical budget.

As the Centre and state have BJP governments there are possibilities that railway minister Suresh Prabhu may be considerate enough to make some provisions for the pending rail projects of Rajasthan.

In this rail budget, Prabhu is likely to introduce a mechanism in which railways with respective state governments can join hands for upcoming developmental projects.

“Earlier, the state governments would get into blame game with the railways and ended up complaining about things they did not get or which were sdelayed. Now, the present government is aiming at some kind of mechanism wherein railways might invite state governments to collaborate with them in big developmental projects through investment,” said a retired railway officer of NWR.

This time there are less chances that the rail minister will announce many trains. “Since railways are into heavy losses the focus would be on revenue generation. No wonder then that rail minister might propose a hike in passenger fares. Likewise, there is not going to be more than 90 new trains for the whole country,” said a senior NWR officer.

However, chances are high that the minister might increase the frequency of the trains to Kochi, Coimbatore, Chennai and other stations. “The state has a good number of people from southern India and trains to Chennai, Bengaluru and Kerala have lesser frequency. There are only weekly trains to these destinations, thus there is a possibility that these trains may get bi-weekly or tri-weekly status to accommodate the rush,” the officer added.

Likewise, there is a possibility that the Jaipur-Delhi air-conditioned train which was started as holiday special and Jaipur-Udaipur holiday special might get a regular status. Other trains NWR could get include a direct train to Katra, a train from Haridwar to Pushkar. “Presently, only the Ahmedabad-Katra train passes through Ajmer and Jaipur which is the only direct option for Vaishno Devi pilgrimage. I think after Katra route was connected through rail, there is a strong possibility that Jaipur might get a train to Katra this time,” the officer added.

TOI

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Less than 100 trains likely to get green signal in Railway Budget 2015

With Railways reeling under a financial crunch, the number of new trains to be announced in the Rail Budget is unlikely to be more than 100, much less than what is the normal practice every year.

Rail Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, who is considered to be pro-reform, is unlikely to announce many rail projects despite demands from states as several unfinished works are already languishing over the years due to lack of funds.

It has been a popular practice of the Railways to announce launching of about 150 to 180 new trains in its budget every year. About 160 trains were announced last year.

According to sources, Prabhu may just take a different approach by not announcing too many new trains in his maiden budget speech and instead do it gradually over the course of the year.

“After weighing pros and cons of a radical proposal of not to announce any new train in the budget, it now seems that a revised proposal is being firmed up for going ahead with announcement of limited number of new trains,” they said.

There might also be a proposal to brand some of the trains in a move to generate additional funds.

As per the proposal, these trains will carry advertisements of some popular brands and may even be named on them such as the Coca Cola Express or Haldiram Express.

The Rail Budget is also likely to have proposal for more unreserved trains with general second class coaches such as the ‘Jan Sadharan Express’ on popular routes to facilitate travel for the common man. Besides some popular destinations will be connected with new service as tourist trains.

The Railway Budget will be presented in Parliament on February 26.

The Rail Budget 2015-16 might also have proposals for acquiring 20 train sets to run on some popular Rajdhani and Shatabdi routes.

Trains for Bihar, a political move considering the upcoming Assembly elections, and the northeast are also likely to be announced. Attempts are being made to maintain a regional balance while announcing new trains for states including Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Bengal and Gujarat.

Rail Budget 2015-16 is also likely to offer business proposals for redevelopment of busy stations under PPP model.

Prabhu might also focus on aspects related to passenger satisfaction which include cleanliness, catering, linen, ease of access to booking information and tickets.

There might also be an announcement to set up an interactive customer portal in order to get direct feedback from passengers.

Currently, the cross-subsidy for passenger service from freight earnings is touching about Rs 24,000 crore annually.

ET

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Venture capitalists eye rail start-ups in hopes of budget sops

Start-ups in the railway sector such as RailYatri.in, Travelkhana.com and Bookmytrain.com are attracting the attention of venture capitalists and private equity firms ahead of the upcoming rail budget that the investors hope will clear the tracks for greater participation of private companies while making the regulatory framework less complex for investors.

Delhi-based Palaash Ventures, for instance, has recently invested in travelkhana.com, an online aggregator platform for providing food to passengers during their train journey.

“We would like railways to be more open to work with private players – they should open bidding process for the private players. They should reduce the complex regulatory framework that has prevented private players from working along with the railways,” said Piyush Goyal, managing partner at Palaash Ventures.

Goyal said railway is a huge market and the growth potential is tremendous as nearly 23 million passengers travel in trains every day. “Even if a player is able to acquire 1% of that market, it will be huge,” he said, adding that the bidding process in place for the private players will encourage competition and work.

Pushpinder Singh, chief executive of Travelkhana.com, said his company’s business did not the start as a result of liberalisation of railways. “In fact, we got Indian Railways to have a liberalised view of the business,” said Singh.

Travelkhana.com, which started in 2012 by conducting a small pilot project in Jaipur and has grown to have 25,000 apps downloaded, serves 3,000 meals every day and caters to more than 130 stations across the country. The company says it is growing at 15-20% every month and has grown four times in the past one year.

The sector has immense potential as trains remain the largest mode of transport in the country, earning revenue of about Rs 57,900 crore. “We are engaged with the Railway Board at the highest level and we expect to see results of our recommendations showing up soon,” said Singh.

Bookmytrain, the first online platform that allows people to book a train ticket and pay for it in cash on delivery, has seen over 10,000 downloads in just a few weeks of its existence and acquired more than 50,000 users.

While people can book a ticket on the official website of Indian Railways, they need to pay for it in advance through credit or debit card or net-banking. “Indian Railways has taken a series of pragmatic steps towards liberalisation in recent years.

Many opportunities have opened up for private entrepreneurs to support railways as it continues to evolve,” said Anurag Bajpai, director, Bookmytrain.

RailYatri.in, launched in 2011, provides the entire gamut of information to passengers from the time they plan their journey to the end. The company’s co-founder and chief executive, Manish Rathi, said the NDA government, which took charge at the Centre in May last year, has taken positive steps for the sector. “We see the new government moving in the right direction by aiming at core areas like infrastructure upgrade and addition of new capacity. Regarding participation of private players, it may be more a matter of executing well on the ground where again the intent seems to be quite positive,” said Rathi.

RailYatri.in, which started generating revenues from its first year of operations, gets about 1.5 million hits daily and has about nine lakh apps downloaded. It has two angel investors – Blume Ventures in India and the US-based Ujama Ventures. “While we don’t expect the core rail services to be liberalised, we think there is a phenomenal value in addressing the customer’s needs,” said Karthik Reddy, managing partner, Blume Ventures.

ET

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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