Interim Railway Budget: Five things to know


The United Progressive Alliance government will present an interim budget ahead of general elections in May 2014.

The Railway Budget 2014-15 would be presented in the Parliament on 12 February 2014 by railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge. According to government records, the practice of presenting a separate rail budget began in 1924. Usually, new trains are announced while train fares and freight rates are tweaked.

This year, things may be a bit different. Here’s why:

1)      In every election year, an interim budget is presented. It is a smaller version of the usual full budget. This is called the interim budget, as it only accounts for finances until the election. This holds true for the railways too.

2)      The first part of the interim budget is called the Vote of Account (VOA). It deals with reporting the financial performance of the railways as an industry in the fiscal year 2013-14 and seeking an approval for expenses.

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3)      No significant changes in rates will be allowed. This is because, it would give the current government an upper hand in wooing voters. That said, with an eye on the elections, the upcoming railway budget may introduce new trains and routes, media reports said.

4)      The minister may also address issues like increase in fire incidents, installment of real-time train information system, and the setting up of automatic ticket vending machines, the Moneycontrol report added.

5)      However, this could be a burden on the government’s finances because Railways has not met its revenue targets. For the April-December period, its revenues is Rs 10,000 crore less than targeted, according to a report by DNA. This is despite a hike in passenger ticket prices and freight rates. The ministry is expecting to earn Rs 1.46 lakh crore for the entire fiscal year.

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