Railway Budget today
New Delhi, February 25
Going by the Economic Survey, which has also reviewed the working of the Railways, the Railway Budget will be a tough one. Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has categorically stated that she does not want to increase the passenger fares.
Admitting that the financial health of the Railways is not good, Ms Banerjee has been arguing that the Central Government should help them since the Railways have been performing a social obligation.
It is estimated that the Railways need Rs 15,000 crore for upgrading and modernising its safety-related infrastructure. The Railways have also had to invest huge money in uneconomic new projects because of political considerations and officials say Rs 31,000 crore are blocked in such pending new line projects.
The northeast, Jammu and Kashmir, and other backward regions are likely to get a fair deal in the Budget, officials indicated.
Some innovative measures to mop up additional revenue, thrust on upgradation of the system, including the signalling and telecommunication network, and the allotment of more funds to provide amenities for the travelling public are among the likely highlights of the Railway Budget.
Ms Banerjee intends to involve the private sector in the development and spread of the Railways and is expected to oppose again the reported pressure to privatise it.
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