The first rail budget of the current NDA government tried to strike a balance between the twin conflicting objectives of making profits like a commercial enterprise and yet serving its ‘social obligations.
The Railway budget had key initiatives for the passenger amenities, boosting freight performance and improving the efficiency of Indian Railways. Sadananda Gowda’s budget pins its hopes on increased participation from private players in station modernization, for safety measures like building boundary walls and expects foreign direct investment to aid in building Railway infrastructure.
Allocation of Rs 100 crore was made for developing high speed train system and Mumbai-Ahmadabad currently under feasibility studies by Japan International Coo-operation Agency will be the first route to get a bullet train. Gowda also called for the surplus funds of the Public Sector Undertakings under Ministry of Railways to be used for Railways infrastructure creation.
Gowda kept his promise of focusing on safety and passenger amenities. Railways will undertake the construction of 1785 road under bridges and road over bridges in partnership with the state government.
The performance of the last financial year marred by higher working expenses and lower passenger volumes. Railways recorded an operating ratio of 93.5 per cent for 2013-14 which signifies its deteriorating financial health.
For the coming financial year, Railways will focus on increasing efficiency of its freight and passenger operations. The empty wagon movement will be lessened by offering attractive rates and the experimental stoppages on the passenger trains will be reassessed post September 2014 against commercial feasibility.
A dedicated University for Railway studies, summer interns in the Ministry of Railway from management and technical institutes and e-procurement and monitoring system for other Railway projects are the other key announcements.