Rail Budget Today
New Delhi, February 23
Reports emerging from the Rail Bhawan said Didi would try to reach out to the common man with measures to enhance security on the trains besides ensuring better facilities for passenger.
With elections due in her home state of West Bengal, she may come out with a Budget having something for every section. This could include additional trains (majority for the home state and some new Durontos) and innovative schemes to corner more freight traffic from road transport.
She may also lay the foundation for the implementation of the ambitious Railways Vision document for the coming decade. The Vision Document 2020 was unveiled by the Railway Minister in the Winter Session of Parliament last year. She had also come out with a White Paper on her ministry at that time.
Reports said most of the proposals as envisioned in the document are expected to find mention in the Railway Budget.
Mamata has already started the process for the commercial use of vacant Railways land by going in for understanding with the Health Ministry and the HRD Ministry for setting up medical facilities and Kendriya Vidyalays there. She might rationalise freight rates and announce innovative schemes to compete with road transport, while leaving the loading rates of essential commodities untouched.
The Budget is expected to contain proposals for the introduction of about 12 Duronto non-stop trains, a couple of Janshatabdis in southern states, and a slew of new trains for West Bengal.
She is also likely to announce expediting project works of upcoming locomotive and coach manufacturing units in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal and expansion of the Kolkata Metro network.
She is likely to announce enhanced budgetary allocation for railway security and arrangements for reducing train accidents. Some of the safety measures would include implementation of the anti-collision device (ACD) and the train protection warning system (TPWS) on certain congested routes.
With elections in mind, Mamata is also expected to reach out to the farming community by taking forward the Kisan Vision Scheme and announcing introduction of special trains for transportation of farm produce.
The minister is set to prepare ground to woo more private investment for commercial utilisation for the Railways land. She met members from the industry recently and presented a number of proposals where private players and the Railways could jointly make good use of the available land.
The revenue sharing model for private participation in laying new rail tracks is also likely to find mention in the Railway Budget.