M A I N   N E W S

Lalu’s please-all Budget
*No hike in freight rate, passenger fare
*Airconditioned rail travel cheaper
*AC “Garib Rath” to run on pilot basis
T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 24
In the run-up to the Assembly elections in five states, Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav presented a please-all Budget for 2006-07 in the Lok Sabha today leaving passenger fares untouched, reducing AC-I and AC-II tier fares by 18 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, bringing no changes in across the board freight rates and simplifying the tariff mechanism for military traffic on a no profit, no loss basis.

He announced the introduction of fully airconditioned superfast Garib Rath as a pilot project with four pairs of services between Saharsa-Amritsar, Delhi-Patna, Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Chennai. The fares on these trains will be 25 per cent lower than that of the present AC-III tier. The Railways will also make efforts to start airconditioned double-decker trains.

Displaying innovativeness in raising resources for the Railways and dealing with stiff competition from low-cost airlines, he stressed on a dedicated multimodal high-axle freight corridor with computerised control on the western and eastern routes to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 22,000 crore.

The minister extended the 50 per cent concession available in second class to farmers and milk producers for travel to institutes of national level for training and learning better agricultural practices to sleeper class.

A concession of 50 per cent will also be provided in second and sleeper class fares to those who have lost their limbs and are travelling to institutes of national level for the transplantation of artificial limbs along with an attendant.

Even as Mr Yadav read out the long list of 55 of new trains, the BJP-led Opposition and the Left parties protested that barring Bihar, and Patna in particular, most of the states like West Bengal, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Kerala had been ignored.

They expressed their angst by trooping into the well of the House and Mr Yadav's entreaties to hear him first was to no avail.

Later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh commended him for the “forward looking” Budget and said the concerns of the members would be addressed. “We are amenable to consider the concerns if they have merit in them,” Dr Singh observed.

The Left protested against the East-West corridor from Ludhiana to Sonnagar via Ambala, Saharanpur, Khurja and Allahabad as against Delhi to Kolkata announced by the Prime Minister earlier.

On the generation of funds for the freight corridor, Dr Singh said the resources would be raised internally and from the market.

The Japanese government would also be approached for assistance. He said the Railways was back on track and had improved financially as never before in the past two years.

In presenting his third Budget on the trot, Mr Yadav has clearly shown preference in increasing the production capacities of workshops, especially those in his home state of Bihar.

The capacities will be augmented at the Rail Wheel Factory in Chhapra, the Samastipur workshop and a wagon overhauling workshop at Sonpur.

The capacity of the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai will also be augmented and the Coach Factory at Kapurthala is being considered for declaration as a wholly owned public sector undertaking.

The proposals for 2006-07 in the Budget envisage technological upgradation, high capacity wagons, expanding use of IT and transfer of technology, added impetus to public and private partnership, awarding eligible rail projects through bidding, permission for private container trains before March 31 and developing policy initiatives for a strong wagon leasing market.

Designating 2006 as the “Year of passenger service with a smile,” Mr Yadav said charges leviable on the issue of e-tickets would be reduced. I-ticket and e-ticket could be bought through rail travel service agents.

The Jansadharan Ticket Booking Scheme has been formulated to make available pre-paid counters to unemployed youth. Agencies of gramin ticket booking service at roadside stations would also be given to unemployed youth.

On railway safety, the minister said overaged tracks and bridges and track circuiting work on all stations on major routes would be completed by March next year. The balance works would be completed by March 2008.

Efforts were also on to adopt an increase volume, reduce unit cost strategy in passenger business to reduce losses in coaching services by about Rs 1,000 crore. The all-India timetable would be reworked de novo using computerised simulated techniques.

More than 200 mail and express trains would be made superfast. The journey time of a majority of Shatabdis, Rajdhanis and certain mail/express trains would be reduced. The number of coaches in 190 popular trains would be increased to 23-24 for the Railways to earn an additional Rs 200 crore annually.

The upgradation of passengers to higher class without additional payment would be introduced on all Rajdhanis and mail/express trains.

The annual plan for the Railways for 2006-07 is the largest ever at Rs 23,475 crore of which Rs 7,500 crore will come from the general exchequer, Rs 10,774 crore through internally generated resources and Rs 5,170 crore through extra-budgetary resources.

The Budget estimates for 2006-07 peg the freight loading target at 726 tonne and freight output at 479 billion tonne. Freight revenues have been estimated at Rs 40,320 crore, passenger at Rs 16,000 crore, coaching Rs 1,400 crore and other sundry earnings at Rs 1,300 crore.



  • No increase in passenger fares.
  • No increase in freight rates.
  • Tariff mechanism for military traffic on a no-profit-no-loss basis.
  • Fully airconditioned “Garib Rath” to run on a pilot basis.
  • Fare on “Garib Rath” to be 25 per cent lower than that of AC-III tier.
  • AC-I fares reduced by 18 per cent.
  • AC-II tier fares reduced by 10 per cent.
  • Diesel, petrol freight charges down by 8 per cent.
  • A dynamic pricing policy for freight introduced.
  • A sum of Rs 22,000 crore for a dedicated freight corridor.
  • Largest-ever Plan outlay of Rs 23,475 crore.
  • 30 per cent discount during non-peak, 20 per cent in peak season on incremental freight.
  • Rationalisation of goods tariff to continue.
  • Cyber cafes and ATMs to be set up at major stations.
  • All-India rail timetable to be reworked.
  • 200 mail, express trains to be made superfast.
  • Journey time of Rajdhani, Shatabdi, mail, express trains to be reduced.
  • 50 per cent concession to physically challenged.
  • Jansadharan ticket booking scheme to be launched.
  • Gramin ticket booking service for the rural youth.


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