Pti

New Delhi: Anticipating healthier economic growth, the Railways has targeted a record Rs 1.6 lakh crore in revenue for the next financial year, while no increase has been proposed in passenger fares and freight rates.

"The Budget Estimates for goods, passenger, other coaching and sundry other earnings have been kept at Rs 1,05,770 crore, Rs 45,255 crore, Rs 4,200 crore and Rs 5,500 crore, respectively, in 2014-15," Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said in the Lower House while unveiling the Interim Rail Budget.

In the current financial year, earnings from freight and passenger services are estimated at Rs 1,31,500 crore.

No increase in passenger fares and freight rates has been proposed in the Interim Rail Budget for 2014-15.

According to the budget document, the Annual Plan for 2014-15 envisages investments of Rs 64,305 crore. The Budget Estimate for 2013-14 was Rs 63,363 crore and the Revised Estimate was Rs 59,359 crore.

Budgetary support from general revenue has been proposed at Rs 30,223 crore, it said.

"Anticipating a healthier growth of economy, the freight traffic target is proposed at 1,101 million tonnes, an increment of 49.7 million tonnes over the current year's revised target of about 1,052 million tonnes," the budget document said.

Passenger fares, freight rates left untouched in rail budget

The Railway Minister later tabled the interim budget in the Rajya Sabha amid slogan-shouting and unruly scenes over Telangana and other issues.

Maintaining that Rail Tariff Authority was being set up to advise the government on fixing of fares and freight charges, Kharge said, "Determination of rates will no longer be an exercise behind veils where the Railways and the users could only peep covertly at what was happening on the other side."

He said the authority would not only consider requirements of the railways but also engage with all stake-holders to usher in a new pricing regime through a "transparent process".

The Minister also spelt out a series of steps including SMS alerts, ticketing on mobile phones in the unreserved segment and online booking of meals in trains. "IT has revolutionised our customer interface over the last few years.

We intend to continue the process," he said.

On the financial performance of Railways, he said the department had met from own resources total additional impact of Rs one lakh crore because of 6th Pay Commission.

"We are confident of surpassing the freight earnings target which has been increased to Rs 94,000 crore from Rs 93,554 crore in budget estimates. Considering the trend of passenger earnings, the revised target has been kept at Rs 37,500 crore," Kharge said.

Considering the trend of earnings and expenditure, the revised plan outlay stands at Rs 59,359 crore. The operating ratio was likely to be 90.8 per cent as against the budgeted target of 87.8 per cent.

"In a marked improvement from the two earlier years, Railways will end the current year with surplus, and fund balance would increase from Rs 2,391 crore at the beginning of the current fiscal to Rs 8,018 crore at the end of March 2014," he said.

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