The Indian Railway Budget is tabled in Parliament

New Delhi: The Railway Budget, to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday, is expected to focus on capacity creation in the rail sector with an increased outlay of about Rs. 1.25 lakh crore. While announcement of new trains is unlikely for the second consecutive year, a scheme for premium high-speed parcel trains is slated to be unveiled in the Budget.

Expectations among stakeholders are tempered by the growing realisation that focus may be on completion of the ongoing projects rather than announcing new ones.What do you expect from this Rail Budget? Tweet with #THBudget and tell us.

Here’s a graphical representation of the Indian Railways by the numbers – and the challenges it faces.

What do the Railways spend their money on?

The number of employees in the Railways, India’s largest employer and one of the world’s ten largest, has barely grown since 1950, but as government salaries grow, so has the wage bill.

Live updates:

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu presents “Rail Budget 2016” in Lok Sabha. Our Correspondent Somesh Jha gives us the updates:

12:21 pm: New freight corridors announced: Delhi-Chennai, Kharagpur-Mumbai, Kharagpur-Vijayawada.

12:20 pm: LIC has agreed invest Rs. 1.5 lakh crore over 5 years on extremely favourable terms.

12:20 pm: Dedicated freight corridor project gaining momentum.

12:19 pm: We are poised to commission broad gauge lines at the rate of 7 km per day against 4.5 km over last five years.

12:18 pm: We will generate 9 crore man-days employment by 2017-18 and 14 crore man-days by 2018-19.

12:17 pm: By 2020, we’ll have time-tabled freight trains.

12:16 pm: New way of funding projects introduced using institutional financing.

12:16 pm: Happy to announce action has been initiated on 139 Budget announcements last year.

12:16 pm: Elimination of unmanned level crossings a priority. By 2020, eliminiate all unmanned level crossing.

12:16 pm: We hope to generate revenues of order of Rs.1,84,820 cr next year, 10.1% higher than revised target of current year.

12:14 pm: The vision is Railways must provide people rail system they can be proud of.

12:13 pm: In 2016-17, the capital plan will be Rs. 1,21,000 crore.

12:13 pm: A saving of Rs. 8,720 crore for Budget estimates of last year will be effected this year.

12:13 pm: Co-operation, collaboration and communication, are the hallmarks of Indian Railways’s journey forward.

12:13 pm: We’ll win back our share in transportation sector. Every asset to be optimally monetised.

12:12 pm: For year 2016-17 we expect the operating ratio of 92%. What is operating ratio?

It is a financial ratio used for large industries to define operating expenses as a percentage of revenue.

12:10 pm: We are facing two headwinds: tepid growth of our economy’s core sectors, increased productivity bonus payouts.

12:09 pm: The Railways stood test of time because of its employees.

12:08 pm: Core objective is to become an engine of employment generation and economic growth at national level.

12:07 pm: This budget will document a journey of transformation and journey of nation.

12:06 pm: This Budget owes its inspiration to vision of PM Modi who said: “My vision is to make railways backbone of India’s progress & economic development.”

11:42 am: Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu to present his second Rail Budget shortly.

11:40 am: Meanwhile, rail stocks see a mixed trend ahead of the Budget.

Stone India went up 5.51 per cent and Titagarh Wagons gained 2.62 per cent on BSE. In contrast, shares of Hind Rectifiers plunged 6.22 per cent and Kalindee Rail Nirman Engineers fell 4.59 per cent while Kernex Microsystems was down 4.49 per cent and Texmaco Rail & Engineering 2.89 per cent. More…

11:12 am: Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu reaches Rail Bhawan.

Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, along with MoS Manoj Sinha, at Rail Bhawan. Photo: V. Sudershan

11:11 am: Hope we’ll be successful in addressing the needs and aspirations of people of country, says Suresh Prabhu

11:04 am: Rail Budget hs been prepared keeping in view aspirations, needs and concerns of people the of nation: Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu.

11:05 am: Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu leaves from his residence for Rail Bhawan in Delhi.

10:54 am: Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu: “It’ll be a good Budget and in benefit of the nation.”

10:37 am: The Railways Minister may offer more culinary options for passengers in his Rail Budget today, so people may enjoy a variety of local cuisines during their train journeys.

The Indian Railways is also considering a greater focus on tie-ups with local vendors for offering such a choice to travellers, as part of an attempt to bolster its e-catering business. More…

10:31 am: Budget will be a tough task, Railway Board veterans say.

“Unfortunately, the performance of railways has not kept pace with what has been planned. The total earnings – freight and passengers – have dropped dismally. I understand the total gap is about Rs. 17,000 crore. We also have the burden of the 7th Pay Commission of Rs.32,000 crore,” Mr K.C. Jena, who served as Railway Board Chairman between 2007-2009, said at a discussion on the Railway Budget organised by Assocham. More…

10:14 am: Mangaluru region doesn’t expect much from Railway Budget.

Though the demand for creation of a separate Railway Division in Mangaluru or at least bringing the Mangaluru Region either under South Western Railway or Konkan Railway is still in vogue, people do not have many hopes on the demand as Mr. Prabhu is concentrating on downsizing the hierarchy in the Railways. More…

10:07 am: Stocks of companies related to the Railways, such as Titagarh Wagon and BEML edge up by 0.85 per cent and 0.39 per cent, respectively, to Rs. 124.80 and Rs. 1,021.95. More…

9:34 am: Hopes pinned on new trains to south Kerala

North Kerala, especially Kozhikode, has once again pinned its hopes on the Railway Budget. Last year, the budget had not made any increase in the fares but the Railways revised tariff at periodic intervals, aimed at increasing the earnings. No new trains had been introduced in the sector as well in the fiscal.

There are demands to start new trains: Chennai-Mangalore-Goa, Kannur-Yeshwantpur, Chennai-Mangalore and Kozhikode-Hyderabad and extend the Kozhikode-Thrissur passenger train to Guruvayur. More…

9:31 am: Bengaluru has urgent needs but low expectations.

Experts say immediate steps to deal with the stress on the city railway station are also just as important. Delay in the development of a third coaching terminal at Baiyappanahalli, announced by D.V. Sadananda Gowda in 2014, has led to pressure on the City Railway Station which leaves officials with little room to operate new trains.

The city terminal handles upwards of 130 trains and Yesvantpur more than 88 trains. More…

9:29 am: Chennai commuters want faster completion of projects.

Commuters are hoping for a congestion-free travel by introducing 12-car rakes, increasing services during non-peak hours, installing closed circuit television cameras and providing better sanitation facilities in suburban railway stations. More…

9:28 am: People of north Andhra region are awaiting official announcement on formation of new zone. More…

9:26 am: Will today’s Railway Budget focus on existing projects in Mysuru region?

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has already cleared the track doubling between Chikjajur and Hubbali in the Mysuru Division which is a key trunk route for the State and would be completed within 4 years at an estimated cost of nearly Rs.1,140 crore and hence people of Mysuru region need not be disappointed in case nothing major is announced for the division. More…

9:19 am: Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu may offer more culinary options for passengers in his Rail Budget to be presented on Thursday, so people may enjoy a variety of local cuisines during their train journeys.

9:18 am:

The copies of Rail Budget 2016 are brought to Parliament. Photo: R.V. Moorthy

9:12 am: The Rail Budget will be the budget of transformation of Indian Railways, says MoS Railways Manoj Sinha.