The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday approved construction of six rail lines and a railway bridge at an estimated cost of Rs. 10,700 crore to cater to increased passenger and freight needs.
The CCEA, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its nod for the construction in a 908 km stretch, which will cost over Rs. 10,700 crore. Most part of the expenditure will be met through extra budgetary resources (institutional financing).
The expansion includes doubling of the Hubli-Chickajur line, the Wardha (Sewagram)-Ballarshah third line, doubling of the Ramna-Singrauli line, third line between Anuppur and Katni, doubling of the Katni-Singrauli line and an additional bridge, and doubling of the Rampur Dumra-Tal-Rajendrapul line.
The doubling of 190 km long Hubli-Chickajur railway line is likely to be completed in more than four years during the 13th Plan period and will cover Chitradurga, Davangere, Haveri and Dharwad areas of Karnataka.
The Pune-Miraj-Hubli-Bangalore route has been identified for doubling, which will improve rail traffic flow and boost overall development of the region.The stretch is part of an important rail link of passenger trains between Mumbai and Bangalore and goods trains to the ports at Mangalore. The doubling of tracks between Bangalore and Tumkur, and Arsikere and Chickajur has already been completed on this link.
Construction of the 132 km long Wardha (Sewagram) – Ballarshah third railway line is likely to be completed in five years in Wardha and Chandrapur districts of Maharashtra.The line capacity utilization of the section is saturated and running of additional Mail/Express and goods traffic over causes delay in movement of the trains.
CCEA approved doubling of 160 km long Ramna-Singarauli railway line at a cost Rs. 2,675.64 cr and is likely to be completed by 2019-20. The project will cover the districts of Garhwa in Jharkhand, Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh and Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh.The Ramna-Singrauli section falls in Dhanbad Division of East Central Railway. At present traffic utilization of the section is 105 per cent, resulting in detention of trains and loss of revenue.
The project would cover the districts of Anuppur, Shahdol, Umaria and Katni districts of Madhya Pradesh.There has been tremendous surge in coal and ore mining recently. A number of industrial townships have also grown up along the project line. These developments have resulted in large demand for additional railway coach services on the section.With an increase in freight traffic in the area, the capacity utilization will reach upto 175 per cent. Apart from this substantial additional coal traffic from IB valley, Korba area, East Corridor and Gevra Road – Pendra Road Project will be channelised through this route to the respective destinations.
Changes to Ticketing Policy Sought in Rail Budget
Changes to the ticketing policy such as 50 per cent refund on ‘tatkal’ cancellations and no limit in ticket bookings for travelers are some of the suggestions for the railways budget 2016-17 made by the people in a survey. Citizens have also raised concerns over bribes taken by TTEs (train ticket examiners) and misuse of emergency quota and sought such issues to be addressed in the ‘Make Railways Better’ survey. Approximately 63 per cent of the citizens surveyed have experienced or observed TTEs taking bribes for giving seats/ticketless travel.
“This is an area where citizens are keen that through policies, processes and systemic changes the Railways must address it otherwise the bribes taken by TTEs translate into revenue loss for the organization.”
Railways to tap auto and FMCG sectors in big way
Facing a decline in loadings demand, railways is mulling various options including entering into untapped areas like auto and FMCG to increase freight revenue.
“The need of the hour is to enter new areas to expand the freight operation in a significant way,” said a senior Railway Ministry official, adding, “The aim is to enter into untapped areas.”
Some of the proposals, including tapping automobile and FMCG sectors in a big way, are likely to come up in Rail Budget 2016-17.Currently, railways mainly carries commodities such as coal, iron ore, steel, cement, minerals, fertilizers and food grains. However, there are no demands for steel, cement and coal due the various reasons. Food grains loadings were also affected due to change in the policy.
“So we have to look for new areas potential sectors like tapping the automobile and FMCG sectors in a big way. In fact we have listed about 46 commodities where we can explore doing business,”
Railway passenger and freight fares set to be hiked
The Centre has decided to raise train passenger and freight charges to bail the Railways out of a crippling financial crisis but the timing of the announcement is yet to be finalized.
Besides failing to meet its annual revenue targets, the Railways is also groaning under a burden of Rs 32,000 crore this year towards implementing the 7th pay commission recommendations.“(The) rail coffers are virtually empty. A decision on hiking fares has been taken though railways minister Suresh Prabhu remains undecided on the timing and manner of the announcement.
They added that the fare increase can come by way of a direct increase or through an indirect route such as an increase in the cost of services provided by the public sector behemoth.
“The hike will be announced before or after the budget,” the sources said adding that a raise now will enable the Railways to take advantage of the peak travel season beginning March.
India’s largest transporter ferries around 23 million people daily, which is equivalent to the population of Australia and New Zealand put together, on its network of tracks running up to more than 64,000 km.
RAILWAY BUDGET 2016: PASSENGERS PRIORITIES
Train passengers expected better services and better amenities in this Railway Budget 2016-2017.
Railway Budget 2016 – 2017: Passengers priorities
In the survey around 35% of the participants listed amenities and services, 30% of the participants demanded safety, 19% demanded cleanliness and 16% for timeliness as their top priority. In the budget 2015-2016, passengers gave top priority to hygiene and cleanliness.
In the survey, Amenities and services included lot of things, they divided amenities and services into two, and those are things needed at stations and things needed in trains.
At the stations passengers demanded
- Clean drinking water,
- Elevators and escalators for families and elders and special needs of travelers,
- Functional toilets,
- Hassle- free coolie and porter services.
In the Trains passengers demanded
- Improved quality of hygiene levels of food stock,
- Effective maintenance of train toilet utilities and neat and clean toilets,
- Increased number of dustbins and their effective management,
- Insect and pest free trains,
- Increased number of phone charging points,
- Friendly staffs etc.
Along with this Passenger Information Services also needed changes including
- Customized train departure/ arrival/cancellation notification via SMS,
- Effectiveness of phone helplines and their information quality,
- Effective display of train arrival / departure and coach numbers on platforms,
- Display of all assistance/ helpline numbers on coaches and platforms etc.
FOCUS ON INVESTMENT
- Railway Budget will focus on attracting investments for augmenting present and future facilities.
- “Comfort of passengers is today’s requirement but augmentation of facilities is the future need. Our effort is to take forward these initiatives hand-in-hand,” Mr Suresh Prabhu said.
- The government is already in the process of finalizing the budget and would continue with the measures started last year for development of Railways, he said, adding that the BJP government had complied with the majority of announcements and promises it made in last year’s railway budget.
- “I am very happy to say that in the last budget we had promised many things for the people of India and most of the announcements have been fully complied with,” he said. Pointing out that Railways had suffered since many decades due to ‘neglect’ and ‘dearth of investments’, he said efforts now were to bring in more investments to rectify this. Steps should be taken to ensure that Indian Railways remains the backbone of the country’s economy and would continue to drive economic growth.
- On the new initiatives to implement projects in states, he said the Union government had launched a program to enter into partnership with states to float a Joint Venture company.
As many as 17 states had come forward to cooperate with the Joint Venture.
- “Kerala along with Andhra Pradesh is one of the first states to sign a MoU with Indian Railways for this venture,” he said, adding that the government’s endeavor was to make the state one of Railways’ investment hubs in the country.
- Suresh Prabhu woos UK investors for investment in rail sector. Seeking investments in Indian infrastructure and areas of mutual cooperation in the rail sector, Railway Minister Suresh Prabbhu has met leading investors and officials during his two-day UK trip.
Suresh Prabhu, who had gone to London at the invitation of UK government, met Oliver Letwin, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and UK Minister in charge of cabinet affairs and Patrick McLoughlin, UK Secretary of State for Transport, to explore investment opportunities in Indian infrastructure and areas of mutual cooperation in the Rail sector. The other members of the Indian delegation included Ranjan Mathai, High Commissioner of India, Rajiv Datt, Managing Director of Indian Railway Finance Corporation, Saikant Sen Sharma, First Secretary (Economic) Indian High Commission, UK. The proposed issuance of Rupee bonds overseas by Indian corporates was also discussed during the meeting, according to a release issued by Railway Ministry. The UK side welcomed these proposals and promised to assist in ensuring success in these endeavors. Prabhu along with the UK Ministers also addressed a high level Investors Round table and investors were positively inclined to commit long term funds for the infrastructure sector. Prabhu also visited the London Stock Exchange and met some leading investors. The investors (banks/financial institutions) who participated in the interactions included Standard Life, Citibank, SBI UK, SBI Caps UK, Prime Bridge Investments, London Stock Exchange, Standard Chartered Bank, ANZ bank, HSBC bank, Kotak Mahindra , Blue Bay Investments, Black Rock Investments, Deutche Bank, U K Green Investment Bank, Russell Investments, Jupiter Asset Management, HSBC, SBI Capital, Investec, BAML, Redington and JP Morgan. In addition, the Indian delegation also visited three stations in London area where considerable redevelopment of property has taken place. Railways have finalized plan to redevelop about 400 major stations across the country to upgrade passenger amenities.
STOCKS TO WATCH DURING THE RAILWAY BUDGET SESSION
TITAGARH WAGONS: THE STOCK IS LOOKING BULLISH FOR THE UPSIDE TARGETS OF 150-160 FOR THE SHORT TERM WITH A STOPLOSS OF 120 FROM THE CURRENT PRICE NEAR 135.
TEXRAIL: THIS STOCK TOO IS BULLISH AND CAN HAVE THE UPSIDE TARGETS OF EVEN 200 IN MANAGES TO CROSS 150 LEVEL AND SUSTAIN.DOWNSIDE SUPPORT FOR THE STOCK IS AT 125 NOW.
LT: SAME LIKE THE PREVIOUS STOCK A CLOSE ABOVE 1160 WILL GIVE POSITIVE MOVES FOR LT AND THE UPSIDE TARGETS FOR NEAR TERM IS AROUND 1275-1300 FOR THE STOCK.DOWNSIDE SUPPORT AT 1050.
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