Saturday, February 26, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


R A I L W A Y    B U D G E T

Emphasis on safety steps

Kerala, UP MPs stage walkout

Fund for unmanned crossings

‘Palace on Wheels’ on Ajanta, Ellora route

Metro projects announced

49 pc of revenue spent on salaries

Freight-loading target 450 million tonnes


Emphasis on safety steps
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Feb 25 — Many accidents having plagued the Indian Railways in the recent past, the Railway Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, today announced several measures to ensure safe transport of passengers and freight.

Resolving to give highest priority and maximum possible investments for the safety of the Railways, Ms Banerjee pointed out that the Railway Safety Review Committee headed by Justice H.R. Khanna had assessed a requirement of Rs 15,000 crore for the rehabilitation of overaged assets and for providing adequate technology back-up to staff connected with train running.

Some of the special steps taken by the Railways to strengthen safety include provision of walkie-talkie sets to drivers and guards, track circuiting to prevent accidents due to human failure, improved communication between driver, guard and nearest station through mobile radio system, block-proving by axle counters, replacing existing mechanical signalling systems with modern signalling systems such as colour light signalling, panel interlocking, solid state interlocking and route relay interlocking.

Simultaneously, an intensive training and human resource development programme specifically aiming at enhancing safety consciousness amongst front-line operational staff has also been launched.

Ms Banerjee informed the members that the Konkan Railway Corporation had developed a new anti-collision safety device. When installed on locomotives, brake vans, stations, level-crossings and other vulnerable locations, the device will avert collisions or reduce their impact. To comprehensively test the system, a pilot project is now being undertaken on Northeast Frontier Railway. On successful completion of the pilot project, the device would be introduced on all zonal railways.

Ms Banerjee also appealed to the MPs for recommending conversion of unmanned level crossings to manned level crossings under "Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme" to supplement the efforts of the Railways in this direction.

She also proposed to substantially raise the outlay for track renewal taking it to Rs 2000 crore in the next year’s budget, marking an increase of about 37 per cent over the revised outlay in the current year.

An enhancement of about 26 per cent in the outlay on signalling and telecom component has also been proposed.

Since a part of the diesel cess is now available to be spent specifically for rail safety works, Ms Banerjee said the sum of Rs 300 crore which the Railways expected to get from this would be fully spent on the manning of unmanned level crossings, construction of roads, overbridges and underbridges. This would further increase safety of the Railways.

She also spoke about enhancing the security of Railway passengers and their belongings, especially in the wake of attacks on Railways by militant groups. She said a high-level Joint Task Force of Railways and State Government officials had been set up to suggest ways and means to improve the effectiveness of the General Reserve Police and the Railway Protection Force in preventing crimes in trains and on Railway premises.Back


Kerala, UP MPs stage walkout
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Feb 25 — Regional identity overshadowed political loyalty in the Lok Sabha today with members from Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and the North-East staging walkouts over the "inadequate consideration" given to their respective states in the Railway Budget.

Kerala MPs, cutting across party lines, came under a common platform on "learning that the Railway Budget did not contain any significant announcement for their state".

Members of Left parties, the Kerala Congress, Muslim League and the Congress unitedly criticised the Railway Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, even as she tried to convince them that she had not ignored their state.

Ms Banerjee’s speech was drowned in the commotion as several Left members rushed to the well of the House. In a moment of desperation, Ms Banerjee asked the Kerala MPs to give her a representation, then and there, and when even this failed to convince them she said she was prepared to sanction two new trains for the state. "Please give me the details", she pleaded.

The members were, however, in no mood to listen and later all Kerala MPs staged a walkout.

Taking cue from Kerala, several MPs from Uttar Pradesh also rushed to the well of the House and accused the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, of disappointing them. Cine star Raj Babbar led a walkout of the UP MPs.

The Samajwadi Party leader, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, who initially did not join the walkout, after a few minutes made a brief interruption and followed suit.

After Kerala and UP, it was the turn of some members from the North-East to protest. Mr Tarun Gogoi, who is a Congress member from Assam, spoke about the injustice done to his region.Back


Fund for unmanned crossings

NEW DELHI, Feb 25 (PTI) — The Railways will set up a separate safety fund to man unmanned level crossings and construct road overbridges/underbridges to be financed through contribution from the Central Road Fund, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee said today.

Presenting the Railway Budget for 2000-2001, she said the Railways would spend Rs 300 crores, its share from the Central Road Fund, for the purpose.

Stating that safety would be the Railways’ primary concern, she appealed to MPs to recommend conversion of unmanned level crossings to manned level crossings under "MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)’’ to supplement the Railways’ efforts in this direction.

She said that in spite of the Railways’ serious resource constraint, a substantial enhancement of the outlay on track renewal, taking it to Rs 2000 crore, has been proposed in next year’s budget, marking an increase of about 37 per cent over the revised outlay in the current year.

She said signalling and telecom were equally important for safety and therefore an enhancement of about 26 per cent outlay on signalling and telecom component in the next year’s budget has been proposed.

Turning to security, she said the Railways have become "soft targets" for militant groups to express their frustration".

Ms Banerjee said the Railways has over 62,800 km of routes on which about 13,500 trains run daily across the country. "Despite such vast spread, we are determined to combat this menace and fully protect our passengers and installations’’.

She prefaced her statement by saying that a dangerous new dimension to the security situation has come about in recent past and that was violent acts by the militant groups.Back


‘Palace on Wheels’ on Ajanta, Ellora route

NEW DELHI, Feb 25 (UNI) — The Railways have decided to increase its participation in the promotion of tourism with making available inspection carriages, popularly called ‘saloons’ to the public on payment basis for commercial purposes and tourism.

The Railway Budget for 2000-2001 presented by Ms Mamata Banerjee in the Lok Sabha today calls for upgrading services and facilities on the Darjeeling Himalayan section and providing two more diesel locomotives for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway which was recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site, the second railway in the world to be given this status.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation limited is expected to become functional by April this year to provide impetus to this sector.

Besides, a new ‘Palace on Wheels type of train as a joint effort between the Railways and Maharashtra Government is to be introduced on the Mumbai-Ratnagiri-Shindhudurg-Goa-Kolhapur-Pune-Ajanta Ellora-Nasik to Mumbai route. Back


Metro projects announced

NEW DELHI, Feb 25 (PTI) — Ambitious metropolitan rail transport projects in Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai and Hyderabad were today announced in this year’s Railway Budget.

Presenting it in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said the ambitious projects in Mumbai included fifth line between Santa Cruz and Borivali, quadrupling of the Borivali-Virar section and the construction of fifth and sixth line between Kurla and Thane.

In Calcutta, the projects included the extension of circular railway from Princepghat to Mejerhat and beyond to airport besides the electrification of this circular rail to run the EMU service.

Allocation to the Calcutta Metro Railway Project from Tollygnge to Garia will be increased to complete the project at an early date, she said.

In Chennai, phase-II of Mass Rapid Transit System from Tirumailai to Velachery, now progressing at rapid pace, would be commissioned by March 2002.Back


49 pc of revenue spent on salaries

NEW DELHI, Feb 25 (PTI) — As much as 49 paise of every rupee earned by the Indian Railways during 1999-2000 was spent on meeting staff costs, leaving only one paisa for development and capital funds.

While 16 paise of every rupee earned by the Railways was spent on fuel charges, lease charges and dividend accounted for eight paise and six paise respectively, according to Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee who presented the Railway Budget for 2000-01 in Parliament today. The staff costs incurred by the railways included 38 paise for staff wages and other allowances and 11 paise out of every rupee for pension fund.

A lion’s share of Railways earnings (68 paise) was accounted for by goods traffic receipts.Back


Freight-loading target 450 million tonnes

NEW DELHI, Feb 25 (PTI) —The Railways are set to achieve the freight-loading target of 450 million tonnes in the current year but freight earnings are likely to fall short of the target by Rs 250 crore due to a drop in lead and change in commodity mix.

Presenting the Railway Budget for 2000-01 in the Lok Sabha today, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said there has been an impressive growth in passenger earnings which reached Rs 7,800 crore by end of January this year.Back

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