Bengal industries on Thursday hailed the Railways Budget for 2016-17, saying focus on freight and logistics cost, project monitoring and emphasis on technologies will help the business houses in the state.
CII president Sumit Mazumder in his reaction to the Railways Budget said, it was growth oriented and transformative.
He said there is nothing on wagon procurement in the Budget but mention of port linkage and direct connectivity from Kharagpur to Mumbai and Vijaywada will help Bengal.
“The focus on freight transport, project monitoring, action of logistics cost, reliance on technology, safety are worth appreciation,” Mazumder said after the Budget.
He said as fares are not revised, emphasis should be on efficiency. “The tie up for funds with LIC for 1.5 lakh crore in five years and multilateral funding options will help in raising low cost resources to execute the projects,” Mazumder added.
Titagarh Wagons Ltd vice-chairman and managing director Umesh Chowdhury said the Budget was visionary despite no mention of wagon procurement.
“Globally, government does not buy wagons but creates enabling environment for private sector to procure them. This budget is moving in that direction - which is more important than actual direct procurement,” he said.
For 2015-16, Railways had decided to procure 15,000 wagons and the process is already under progress. This is a four-fold increase in procurement compared to last few years. Chowdury said even if Railways maintains current level of procurement, it will be a welcome step. But enabling environment is more important for private sector to invest in freight infrastructure.
“We need to look beyond the current approach to expand the basket (of freight commodities). We will make sure we recapture the traffic,” Prabhu said adding railways need to “reorganise, restructure and rejuvenate”.
The three new superfast trains announced by him include 'Humsafar' which will be a fully air-conditioned 3AC service with option of meals. 'Tejas' will showcase the future of train travel in India with speeds up to 130 km per hour with onboard services such as entertainment, local cuisine and wifi.
The two trains will ensure cost recovery through tariff and non-tariff measures while 'Uday' will be an overnight double-decker along with 'Utkrishit' double-decker air-conditioned yatri express on the busiest routes.
For improving quality of travel for unreserved passenger, a superfast ‘Antyodya’ express service would be introduced.
‘Deen Dayalu’ unreserved coaches with portable water and higher number of mobile charging points would also be introduced.
He also announced setting up of a Rail Development Authority to enable fair pricing of services, promote competition, protect customer interest and determine efficiency standards. The draft Bill in this regard will be ready after holding extensive stakeholder consultations.
India Railways have a saving of Rs 8,720 crore from previous budget estimates, Prabhu said. He said, “This year, we hope to generate revenues to the order of Rs 1,84,820 crores.” The focus will be on capital expenditure with a mix of various sources of funding in order to ensure the projects are given assured funding.
“Dignity of passengers, speed of trains and progress of nation are main themes of this budget,” he added. ‘Reorganise, Restructure and Rejuvenate’ are the three pillars of the Rail Budget.