The railway budget presented is on right track and holistic – President FKCCI

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Bangalore, July 08, 2014 – Sri S Sampathraman – President FKCCI reacting to the railway budget stated that the budget presented is on right track and holistic in its approach. Increased passenger amenities, more safety measures, timely completion of projects and increased financial discipline are the main highlights which needs to be lauded.

The Budget seeks course correction in the light of mismanagement, apathy, populism in starting projects and leaving them incomplete and severe fund crunch that have inflicted the railways over the years. For this, structural reforms need to be introduced and resource mobilisation mooted through PSU surplus, FDI and PPP are welcome. The much-needed support for PPP as a significant source of investment capital is the backbone of providing the strategic financial headspace. Interestingly Mr. Gowda has not proposed FDI in operations.

Also, the Budget proposes multi-pronged approach to make the journey safe secure and comfortable for passengers. More thrust has been placed on passenger amenities, cleanliness and efficient station management. On safety and security, the Budget has proposed introduction of advance technology for rail-flaw detection and to check causes of accidents. A significant amount has been kept for road-over and road-under bridges. These are welcome measures

IT initiatives has been given a big boost in the Budget including the revamping Railway Reservation System and e-Ticketing with provision of platform tickets and unreserved tickets also over internet. The initiative of the Railways in proposing real-time tracking of trains and rolling stocks, mobile based Wakeup Call System for passengers, mobile based destination arrival alert and Wi-Fi Services in A-1 and A category stations and in select trains are appreciated. The budget lays emphasis on paperless railway offices in next 5 years.

More thrust is provided to make Railway management more efficient and allocation in the budget proposed for setting up of Railway University for training in both technical and non-technical subjects besides establishing Innovations and Incubation Centre to harness the ideas generated from staff. This initiative is the first of its kind.

The proposal to modernise Indian Railway network followed by introduction of Bullet train proposed on Mumbai-Ahmadabad sector besides increasing speed of trains to 160-200 kmph in select 9 sectors is significant in the current context. The new proposal of the Railways in planning to set up of Diamond Quadrilateral Network of High Speed Rail connecting major metros and growth centers of the country is the need of the hour and well addressed. The industry looks for such network for improvement in the connectivity making connectivity faster and time saving.

To augment resources of Railways, the Budget has proposed schemes to facilitate procurement of parcel vans and rakes by private parties and setting up Private Freight Terminals on PPP model looks interesting.

The Railway has proposed to bring in more transparency in administration and execution of projects and is noteworthy. The Budget looks to be more passenger centric on suburban and metropolitan rail services as many services are added in the suburban sector. But it has lost sight of good transport, the target for which is one billion tones.

The proposed 58 new trains besides extending 11 existing trains are the need of the hour and provision made for 28 surveys for new lines and doubling or gauge conversion of lines. Higher funds have been proposed for ongoing projects in Northeast and remote areas which will sphere head the inclusive growth. Special packaged trains on identified pilgrim circuits including Khatra, two tourist trains and a special train featuring life and work of Swami Vivekananda has been proposed in the Budget is expected to boost tourism. The operating ratio as projected to be 92.5% which is 1% better than that in 2013-14.

In respect to Karnataka the minister has offered bonanza by sanctioning many speed trains and introduction of new trains as demanded by the state. This is welcome sign to show that the minister reacts to public demand and the need. Overall the budget is visionary, growth oriented and pragmatic. CCI Newswire