No new trains but Andhra and Telangana chug on massive funds bonanza

The two Telugu states received huge budgetary allocation in the railway budget on Wednesday, raising hopes of massive modernisation of this key railway zone. The budget outlay for Telangana state under South Central Railway (SCR) stood at 1,729 crore as against average allocation of 601 crore in last two years. Similarly, allocation for AP, also saw a jump from last two years average to 3,406 crore from 2,195 this year.

At least 37 stations on SCR zone will undergo `redevelopment’. “Secunderabad and Vijayawada will be taken up in first phase. We have already prepared papers and tenders for the two stations under public private partnership mode, which will be invited next week,” said Vinod Kumar Yadav, general manager (SCR). He said contractors will be allotted space in stations for commercialization.

He welcomed the merger of the rail budget with the Union budget and called it a `historic moment’ for Indian Railways. In the 1920s, when the railway budget was first presented, the revenue accounted for over 50% of general revenue of the government. Revenue also catered to the bulk of transportation requirement of the country , but the situation has now changed, officials said.

“The government is synergizing investments of the railways, road transport, water ways and civil aviation, there by facilitating multi-modal transport planning,” Yadav. Also `merger’ is expected to be beneficial for Railways, relieving it from `capital at charge contributions’ -interest Railway pays the government for supporting its projects. “The merger of rail budget with general budget will surely enable merit-based decisions related to investment, operations and pricing, while balancing social and economic priorities.
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The advantage is Railways will no longer be required to pay dividend on capital at charge contribution from general revenues, which is `9,000 crore.  Second important aspect is that Railways will continue to exercise financial autonomy” said Yadav. The general manager also said details of proposed projects and demands from local MPs will be tabled on February 3. “When I joined office a fortnight back, I wrote to MPs to give suggestions. We have received 34 suggestions which have been forwarded to railway boards. A meeting with the MPs will be held soon,” he said. Since last two years, no new trains are being announced in the budget, but new trains are added round the year.

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