New Delhi: After 17 years, the Railway Budget will be presented to Parliament by a Congressman. The last one to do so was Suresh Kalmadi in 1996.
Union railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s maiden exercise on Tuesday comes as the railways face a huge financial jolt with the diesel hike. Bansal must now take forward Rs 1,50,000 crore in pending projects.
While there was a passenger fare hike after a decade last month, half the extra yield (Rs 3,300 crore) was knocked out by the diesel hike.
A fresh fare hike and a marginal increase in freight is possible, while a fuel adjustment surcharge is also being considered. The option of imposing a fuel adjustment cost over and above the rail ticket price is also said to be high on the mind of Bansal, sources said.
Rae Bareli may get another rail project
Ahead of presenting the Railway Budget, Union railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had called on the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in an indication that another project could be in the offing for her Parliamentary constituency Rae Bareli.
Also, the minister in tune with the practice is likely to unveil a number of new trains, including Rajdhanis and Shatabdis. While Delhi-Mumbai stretch is likely to get another Rajdhani, Ludhiyana could get connected with Delhi with a pair of Shatabdi trains.
The minister is also likely to speed up trains by going ahead for induction of electrical multiple units (EMU) powered trains on long distance for Rajdhanis, Shatabdis and Durantoes so that they clock speed in the range of 130 kmph to 200 kmph.
While the high speed rail corridor (bullet trains) may just find a mention without any financial outlay, the minister could spell out a roadmap for the completion of dedicated freight corridor and its further expansion in other parts of the country.
Bansal is also likely to stress on partnership with state governments in further expansion of the railway networks.