3:16 pm - Wednesday January 19, 4163

Rail Budget 2015 by Suresh Prabhu

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Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday presented a sober Rail Budget, not announcing new trains or factories instead stepping up investment in infrastructure.The funds would be used for doubling and tripling lines, gauge conversion and building traffic facilities on congested routes. The money allocated for doubling of lines alone has seen a never-before 357 per cent jump to around Rs 18,000 crore. There is also a 67 per cent jump in the money allocated to passenger services. His proposed thrust areas include cleanliness, ease of securing tickets and berths, and security of women.

He kept passenger fares intact given the fall in diesel prices, which saved him Rs 5,000 crore this year, but hiked freight rates for some commodities, including coal, by 6.3 per cent and cement by 2.7 per cent.
To transform the Railways and make it future-ready, Prabhu proposes to invest Rs 1 lakh crore in 2015-16, and over the coming five years Rs 8.5 lakh crore.

“Railways will create new vehicles to crowd in investment from long-term institutional investors and other partners. These may include setting up an infrastructure fund, a holding company and a joint venture with an existing NBFC of a PSU with IRFC, for raising long term debt from domestic as well as overseas sources, including multilateral and bilateral financial institutions,” he said in his budget speech.

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