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Rail ready for revenue run
Tweak in charges to boost surplus

New Delhi, Feb. 26: Indian Railways is targeting a record revenue of Rs 1.46 lakh crore and the generation of a surplus of Rs 13,146.80 crore in 2013-14 by raising various charges for passenger movement and basic freight rate, while promising an investment of Rs 63,363 crore.

“With an increased target of 1,047 million tonnes in freight traffic and passenger growth of 5.2 per cent over 2012-13, the gross traffic receipts are expected to rise to Rs 1,43,742 crore in 2013-14,” said railway minister Pawan Bansal, presenting his first budget.

Bansal, who is also the first Congress minister to present a railway budget in the last 17 years, today spared passengers from any further hike in fares but raised various charges on tickets, including reservation fees, tatkal charges and cancellation fees, along with an increase in freight tariff of around 5.8 per cent.

“The freight earnings target has accordingly been set at Rs 93,554 crore, a growth of 9 per cent and the passenger earnings target has been kept at Rs 42,210 crore,” said Bansal, adding that the total earnings also factor in an expected growth of 11 per cent in coaching and 10 per cent in sundry earnings.

The hike in freight tariff, which has been linked to fuel prices, will fetch an additional revenue of Rs 4,200 crore, while the supplementary charges will increase the revenue earnings by Rs 483 crore in the next fiscal.

He added that the fuel adjusted component of the freight tariff would be dynamic and the increase or decrease would depend on the movement of fuel prices.

Justifying the hike in supplementary charges, the minister said the move was aimed at discouraging touts and travel agents from booking bulk tickets, thereby depriving genuine passengers. “This would result in improvement in the system. There are no hidden charges. Nothing can be hidden.”

In January, the minister had effected an across-the-board hike in passenger fares that would net Rs 6,600 crore a year. However, the subsequent hike in diesel price and electricity charges put an additional burden of Rs 3,300 crore on Indian Railways, which is staring at a loss of Rs 24,600 crore in the current financial year, up from Rs 22,500 crore in 2011-12 in the passenger traffic segment.

In 2013-14, the hike in fuel and electricity prices will place an additional burden of Rs 850 crore on the railways.

The annual investment plan for the railways in 2013-14 is proposed at Rs 63,363 crore. “The plan is proposed to be financed through a gross budgetary support of Rs 26,000 crore, railways’ share in the road safety fund of Rs 2,000 crore, internal resources of Rs 14,260 crore, market borrowings of Rs 15,103 crore and an expected mobilisation of Rs 6,000 crore through the public private partnership (PPP) route,” added Bansal.

The minister said the railways had received a general budgetary support of Rs 26,000 crore — a Rs 2,000 crore increase compared with the 2012-13 budgetary allocation.

The minister said the thrust of the investment plan was on doubling of tracks, safety and passenger and staff welfare.

“I have increased the outlay for doubling of tracks, safety and passenger and staff welfare from about Rs 11,410 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 13,220 crore, an increase of 16 per cent,” he said.

The minister also proposed to set up a new debt service fund to repay loans and interest to funding institutions such as the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, for which Rs 4,163 crore has been allocated in the coming fiscal.

The fund has set a target of creating a balance of Rs 30,000 crore in the terminal year of the 12th Plan.

“Creating the debt service fund is very important,” said Rajeev Jyoti, chief executive of Larsen and Toubro Ltd’s railway business. “He is in favour of having funds that will enhance the overall health of the railways.”

 
 
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