New Delhi (IANS): Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge presented the interim rail budget for the next fiscal Wednesday sans much fanfare with no hike in fares or freight rates, and announced 72 new trains and connectivity to two more northeastern states.
In what was his personal first and the last such exercise in the 15th Lok Sabha for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, Kharge also promised a new tariff-setting body and said work on eastern and western freight corridors was progressing well.
The minister only read a part of his speech, for all of 14 minutes in the lower house of parliament. The full speech copy, along with the other documents that included a vote on account for the first four months of the next fiscal, was laid on the table of the house.
The minister announced that 72 new trains were being introduced, including 17 premium trains, 38 express trains, 10 passenger trains, four suburban trains and three diesel locomotive inter-city trains for medium distances.
He said despite the resource constraints, the targets for the current fiscal were fully achieved, with some 2,207 km of new lines, adding two more northeastern states on the country’s railroad map this fiscal — Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya.
Anticipating a healthier economic growth, the freight traffic target, he said, was also proposed higher 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.
In terms of electrification of the network, 4,556 km railway line was completed this fiscal, against the target of 4,500 km, while the target of doubling the gauge was also surpassed with 2,227 km, against 2,000 km.
Train services will also start for Vaishno Devi shrine at Katra in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said three new rail factories in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have already been commissioned — a wheel plant at Chhapra, a coach factory in Rae Bareli and a diesel component factory at Dankuni, respectively.