Calcutta, March 14: Dinesh Trivedi has set aside the highest amount yet by any railway minister to buy wagons and coaches, bringing cheer to Bengal that is home to many such factories.
He proposes to spend Rs 18,193 crore on rolling stock — rail jargon for wagons, coaches, locomotives and related infrastructure — in 2012-13. The amount represents an increase of over 31 per cent over the Rs 13,824 crore set aside by Mamata Banerjee in 2011-12.
The investment in rolling stock in the next five years is estimated to be Rs 1,70,751 crore. I propose the highest-ever (annual) allocation of Rs 18,193 crore for the next year (2012-13), which represents more than 30 per cent of the annual plan outlay, Trivedi said in his budget speech.
The minister did not specify the number of wagons — which makes up the bulk of the rolling stock — to be procured. But a close reading of the budget suggests it will be around 16,000 wagons. That is the number actually ordered in 2011-12, less than the 18,000 Mamata had proposed.
Companies welcomed the increase. The budgetary allocation for acquisition of rolling stock has been enhanced to over Rs 18,000 crore. This would be a positive for our industry as we are now manufacturing both wagons and (passenger) coaches, said Umesh Chowdhary, vice-chairman of Titagarh Wagons, the largest of such companies.
Texmaco, another key player, welcomed Trivedis announcement to step up procurement of electric and diesel locomotives, saying it had come after a long time.
The railways have projected freight earnings of Rs 89,339 crore in 2012-13, a growth of 30.2 per cent over the current year. The target is to carry 1,025 million tonnes of freight, 55 million tonnes more than in 2011-12. More wagons and locomotives will be needed to achieve the goal. Freight, not passenger fares, account for the bulk of railway earnings.
But some private makers appeared worried that the railway planned more of its own wagon and coach units. Jessop chief Pawan K. Ruia said: There is a huge scope of better utilisation of the capacities in coach and wagon manufacturing in the country and the companies are missing announcements on such issues.
Trivedis budget said a wagon factory coming up at Kulti, near Asansol, and a unit at Budge Budge to manufacture frames for bogies would start production in 2012-13.