New Delhi: Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda on Tuesday said he was ready to present his maiden rail budget for the current fiscal and hoped it would meet people’s expectations.
“Going to present my maiden budget as a rail minister of India today. Hope we are able to meet public expectations,” Gowda, former chief minister of Karnataka who represents the Udupi Chikmagalur constituency in Lok Sabha, tweeted. Last month he had listed safety and security of women and the elderly as also passenger amenities like drinking water, waiting areas and rest rooms, as his priority areas and said that effort will be made to make Railways efficient and passenger oriented. Gowda further said even though Indian Railways carried the largest number of passengers and freight, it stood much behind in efficiency, punctuality, cleanliness and services.
“The Chinese Railways, as we know, is four times more efficient than ours both in terms of number of passengers carried per employee and freight carried per employee,” he said, adding conventional thinking and the present style of functioning will not achieve anything. The maiden railway budget for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government is also set to propose steps to boost the department’s revenues, as it is saddled with a huge cash cruch of Rs.26,000 crore amid a decline in the growth in passenger earnings.
The new government has already increased railway passenger fares by 14.2 percent and the freight carriage charges by 6.5 percent. However, it will need more funds from international lenders to finance long gestation projects. In the interim budget, Mallikarjun Kharge, the then railway minister, had set a revenue target of Rs.1.65 lakh crore that included Rs.1.06 lakh crore from goods and Rs.45,255 crore from passenger fares, and the balance from coaching and other sources.