Live Railway Budget 2008 and India Union Budget 2008 update

9 years ago | 25-02-2008 | NKFS


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New Delhi, Feb 25 : Railway Budget 2008-2009 is to be announced on February 26 and Union Budget 2008-2009 is to be announced on 29th Feb 2008.

Live update of the Hon'ble Railway Minister's Rail Budget Speech in the Parliament shall be available on 26/02/2008.

Live update of the Hon'ble Finance Minister's Union Budget Speech in the Parliament shall be available on 29/02/2008 at 11:00 AM

Read the latest news update on Indian Economy and live budget session coverage at newkerala.com in association with major news agencies of India. Stay tuned...


Fare cuts, more profits in Lalu Prasad's fifth rail budget

By Arvind Padmanabhan, New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) With marginal cuts in freight and passenger fares and with a cash profit of Rs.250 billion for this fiscal, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad presented his fifth budget Tuesday, adding another chapter to the dramatic turnaround story of the Indian Railways.

Springing a surprise on 14 million passengers who travel by Indian trains every day, Lalu Prasad said that fares would be cut by five percent in sleeper class, four percent in AC II Class, three percent in AC III Tier and seven percent in AC I Class. Transportation of fuels would also cost five percent less.

The minister also announced in the Lok Sabha 10 new 'garib raths' and 53 other new trains for the next fiscal. He said that for the first time tickets would have the expected time of arrival of trains to ensure punctuality.

"Everybody is appreciating that I have done tremendous work," Lalu Prasad, who was dressed in a cream-coloured sleeveless sweater and his trademark white kurta pyjama, said in English before proceeding with the 115-minute speech in Hindi.

"We have created an organisation where every child will say Chak de Railways!" said Lalu Prasad in his last full budget for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, with an eye clearly on elections in several states and the later Lok Sabha ballot.

The Indian Railways run more than 11,000 trains every day, 7,000 of which are for passengers. The network comprises 108,706 km and ferries the 14 million passengers from 6,853 stations across the length and breadth of the country.

Given its importance, this is also the only ministry that has a separate annual statement of accounts outside the national budget, which will be presented by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Friday.

As he read out the budget proposals, Lalu Prasad said the private sector would be permitted to build terminals on land owned by the railways. Consultations will begin with foreign companies to design new wagons.

Some of the measures directed at the average citizen included tickets through mobile phones, issuance of wait-listed e-tickets, 6,000 ticketing machines by 2009, LED display boards at stations and higher platforms at 135 stations.

He also announced modular toilets in trains, modernised coaches for some premier trains like Rajdhanis and Shatabdis, touch screens and colour TVs at all major stations and stainless-steel coaches for all trains by 2010.

The minister said that in the past four years, the plan investment in railways had almost tripled to Rs.300 billion from Rs.110 million even as the freight target of 785 million tonnes was surpassed this fiscal with 790 million tonnes.

He also said that revenues from passenger fares had jumped by 14 percent, while income from freight loading was up close to 10 percent at Rs.347 billion in the first nine months of the current fiscal.

This apart, the minister said the rail infrastructure would be upgraded over the next seven years at an investment of Rs.750 billion along with the proposal to set up 20,000 km of high-density network for speedier trains.

The minister began his speech, seeking to assuage feelings of some members from Karnataka who took offence to reported comments made by him that they said was offensive to their state.

"I have already clarified my position. Remember, I had made a prime minister from Karnataka," the minister said amid laughter, referring to the support he gave to H.D. Deve Gowda in forming a government.

As he came to the end of Part One of his speech after some 110 minutes, there were noisy protests by opposition members. But Lalu Prasad persisted in reading the report even though Speaker Somnath Chatterjee asked him to table it.

"If leaders of parties behave this way, I cannot understand," an anguished Chatterjee said. "Those who don't want to listen, may go out."

After an e-ticket, Lalu now introduces an SMS-ticket

New Delhi, February 26 (ANI): Announcing a slew of new passenger utilities Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, in his fifth budget, has announced the facility of ticket reservations from anywhere through mobile phones.

He said that his ministry is at an advanced stage of negotiations with several mobile service providers, and this could be one of big-ticket ideas in the Rail Budget.

The idea is to deliver the ticket on the cell phone itself in the form of an SMS and a passenger would merely need to show this SMS to board and travel on the train, according to sources.

Users will dial a designated number and interactive voice response systems will guide them. The ticket will be generated electronically and delivered in the form of an SMS. To prevent misuse, it will be ensured that one cannot edit or forward this SMS. The mobile company will have to guarantee security of the transaction.

He has also announced measures targeting the customers including opening 15,000 automated ticket machines and doing away with the long queues at ticket booking counters over the next two years.

Smart cards will also be introduced for Mumbai train commuters and number of trains will be increased in the peak season along with the introduction of multi-level parking at 36 stations.



Record Cash surplus Rail Budget, E-ticket for waitlisted passengers

New Delhi, Feb 26 (ANI): Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today announced a cash surplus of over Rs 25,000 crore for new initiatives including e-ticketing for waitlisted passengers and a rail ticket for Mumbai suburbans through a "Go Mumbai Card."

Presenting his fifth consecutive Railway Budget, Lalu said the total cash surplus for the last four years stood at a whopping Rs 68,778 crore.

He further said that the sapling he had sown would grow into a mighty tree and bear fruit.

''The world today acknowledges that I have done a tremendous job in bringing crores of rupees into the coffers of the Railways,'' he added.

Yadav also announced plans for installation of escalators in 50 per cent of the railway stations in the country.

He also said that from now onwards, all passenger coaches would be made of stainless steel. Onboard cleaning would be done on Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains, and not just on stations.

The Railways would now have digital display on train arrivals and departures on most of the stations, he added.

Freight loading is estimated to go up substantially from 650 million tonnes to 1100 million tonnes by 2011.

Indian Railways runs over 14,000 trains a day and cutting fares would help tackle price pressures and woo voters ahead of general elections next year.

Last year, Lalu had cut freight rates for a string of fuels and minerals by between 5-6 per cent, and outlined plans to modernise the century-and-a-half-old network, one of the worlds largest.

According to analysts, the rail network now has a cash surplus of nearly 2.5 billion dollars.

The Railway Ministry is trying to increase its share of freight by cutting costs and turnaround times, appealing to businesses frustrated by the slow movement of goods.


Lalu presents Railway Budget amidst humour and wit

New Delhi, Feb 26 (UNI) Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today announced a cash surplus of more than Rs 25,000 crore for 2007-08 while outlining his strategy of achieving high volumes by keeping the passenger fares low and selectively imposing surcharges to generate high revenues from freight.

Presenting the Railway Budget 2008-09 in the Lok Sabha, Mr Prasad said the total cash surplus for the last four years stood at a whopping Rs 68,778 crore.

He said the sapling he had sown would grow into a mighty tree and bear fruit.

Characteristic of his style, the Railway Minister set the tone by his humorous remarks right at the beginning of the presentation of his fifth budget.

''The world today acknowledges that I have done a tremendous job bringing crores of rupees into the coffers of the Railways,'' he said, basking in his achievements.

He quoted a couplet to the effect that he had not only conjured dreams, but also translated these into reality.

As soon as the Railway Minister was asked to make his statement, the MPs from Karnataka were on their feet, protesting against his alleged remarks which were derogatory to the Kannada community.

Mr Prasad was quick to deny the remarks and said he had already issued clarification in this regard. ''I hold people of Karnataka in high esteem,'' he quipped, bringing the curtain down on the issue that had been simmering for long.

The Railway Minister chose to present the budget in Hindi, while giving a whiff of how he intends to modernise the popular transport behemoth. In this connection, he announced his plans for installation of escalators at half of the railway stations in the country.

He also said that from now onwards, all passenger coaches would be made of stainless steel. These would be rust-proof and easy to maintain.

Freight loading is estimated to go up substantially from 650 million tonnes to 1100 million tonnes by 2011.

Faced with competition from low budget airlines, Mr Prasad addressed frequent complaints relating to cleanliness on premium trains. From now onwards, onboard cleaning would be done on Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains, and not just on stations.

For the convenience of passengers, the Railways would now have digital display on train arrivals and departures on most of the stations.

Realising the hardship faced by licensed porters, Mr Prasad said all of them would be absorbed as Class IV employees, like gangmen, in the Railways. For the first time ever, the Railway Minister, displaying his caring attitude, announced that a 'Mother-Child Express' would be launched in collaboration with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. The train is intended to benefit expectant mothers, giving them protection from being jostled by crowds in trains.

On the lines of concession available to cancer patients, Mr Prasad said that henceforth, AIDS and HIV patients would be able to travel at 50 per cent of ticket fare.

Taking into account frequent accidents at unmanned crossings, he said all such crossings would be converted into manned ones.

Besides, 2500 old signals would be replaced.

Further, as many as 1000 Rail OverBridges (ROBs) would be constructed, with 50 per cent of the cost to be met by states. l To ensure safety at railway stations, he announced measures in this regard, including installation of Close Circuit TVs (CCTVs).

Bringing to the fore the efficiency of the Railways, he said its operating ratio had come down to 73.3 per cent from 78 per cent a year earlier.

To ensure the robusteness of its revenues in future, Mr Prasad said Rs 40,000 crore would be invested in commercialisation of its vacant land.


Highlights of Railway Budget 2008-09

Following are the highlights of the Railway Budget 2008-09, presented in the Lok Sabha Tuesday by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad:

Passenger fares reduced across the board

Second class fares for journeys over 50 km to cost 5 percent less

Sleeper fares down by 5 percent

AC III-tier fares cut by 2 percent

AC II-tier fares reduced 4 percent

AC first class fares down 7 percent

Freight charges for petrol and diesel cut by 5 percent

53 new trains to be introduced

10 garib raths (low cost AC trains) to be launched

Licensed porters to be absorbed as Class IV employees

Safety plan for railways, closed circuit TVs on stations

Rs.2.5 trillion for technical modernisation

Free season tickets to girl students till graduation

50 percent concession for AIDS patients, senior women citizens and Ashok Chakra awardees

Arrival time to be printed on tickets

Wait-listed e-tickets to be introduced

Tickets to be confirmed through mobile phones

20,000 km of high-density network planned

30 major stations to have multi-level platforms

Rs.400 billion investment in commercialising vacant railway land

To acquire land for new projects

New rail coach factory in Kerala

Energy conservation by replacing 600,000 bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

2,500 old signals to be replaced by railways

All level crossings to be manned

Staff benefit fund to be increased by 10 times this fiscal

Only stainless steel coaches to be made from now on

Many Rajdhani trains extended to cover more destinations

Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains to have new coaches by 2011

Hospital trains to be introduced with healthcare and operating facilities

16,548 km of railway track to be replaced

1,000 over-bridges to be built with 50 percent participation by states

Railways to build cargo terminals in 50 major locations

Private companies can have their own cargo terminals on railway land

Wagon leasing policy introduced to facilitate business

Additional Rs.200 billion earned on freight services

790 tonnes payload or weight per freight train target achieved

Payload to go up 78 percent by increasing wagons to 58 from 40

15,000 freight wagons to be added

470 engines to be added in 2008-09

15,000 automated ticket machines by 2009

Smartcard technology for ticketing system

Rs.40 billion to be spent on green toilets

More trains in peak season

Rs.250 billion in profits in 2007-08

New earnings of 21 percent in 2007-08

Rs.300 billion to be spent on network expansion

Rs.492.50 billion invested in new projects

Cash surplus in 2007-08 at Rs.250 billion

Operating ratio a favourable 76 percent


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