introducing the Railway Budget, 2013-14
26th February 2013
Madam Speaker, I rise to present before this august House the Revised Estimates for 2012-13 and a statement of estimated receipts and expenditure for 2013-14. I do so with mixed feelings crossing my mind. While I have a feeling of a colossus today, it is only ephemeral and is instantaneously overtaken by a sense of humility. Democracy gives wings to the wingless, cautioning us all the while, that howsoever high or wide our flight may be, we must remain connected to the ground. For giving me this opportunity, I am grateful to the Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the UPA Chairperson, Smt. Sonia Gandhi and pay my homage to the sacred memory of Sh. Rajiv Gandhi who introduced me to the portals of this highest Temple of Indian democracy.
Madam Speaker, as I proceed, my thought goes to a particularly severe cold spell during the recent winter, when it was snowing heavily in Kashmir valley, and suspension of road and air services had brought life to a grinding halt. Photographs in Newspapers showing a train covered with snow emerging from a similar white background, carrying passengers travelling over the recently commissioned Qazigund Baramulla section instilled in me a sense of immense pride. I recall here the inspirational words of Christine Weatherly: When you travel on the railway,
And the line goes up a hill,
Just listen to the engine
As it pulls you with a will.
Though it goes very slowly
It sings this little song
“I think I can, I think I can,”
And so it goes along.
That is the strength of this organization, supported by
determination, commitment and dedication to duty demonstrated by each member of the 14 lakh strong Rail Parivar.
Indian Railways is a vital organisation, playing an unparalleled role in integrating the nation. From Baramulla in the north to Kanyakumari in the south, Dwarka in the West to Ledo in the East, trains of Bhartiya Rail always on the move, carrying people and material, creating opportunities and fostering development is a single most important catalyst in the growth story of our great Nation. Madam, I have hardly completed four months with Railways but it is a great feeling indeed to find myself identifying with the stupendous task assigned by the people of India to the railways.
In these few months, I have been overwhelmed by demands for
new projects, new trains, and varied suggestions for improving the services, reflecting aspirations of the people of India. While Railways undoubtedly contribute significantly to the growth, progress and development of the country and is a powerful vehicle for mainstreaming remotest corners of the nation, the growth of Railways itself is inextricably linked with the overall growth of the country.
Dilemmas & Concerns
I wish to share with this august House some of the concerns that Railways are faced with today.
IR must remain financially sustainable so that resources generated can be ploughed back for efficient upkeep, operation and maintenance of the system itself for the benefit of the rail users. Major segments of its business, freight as well as passenger need, therefore, to be based on sound economic principles and provide value for money to all customers. This august House is aware that growth of this crucial transport sector has not always conformed to these principles. Steep increase in input costs had to be met primarily through adjustment in freight rates. As a result, the ability of the railways to generate enough resources to meet its operational expenditure as well as investment in 2
crucial planned activities such as enhancing safety, throughput capacity, users’ amenities etc. suffered.
The number of passenger trains has increased from 8897 in 2001-02 to 12335 in 2011-12. Yet, the losses on these operations continue to mount, increasing from Rs 4,955 crore in 2001-02 to Rs 22,500...