With the railway budget becoming a history, the roadmap for Indian railways for a financial year, which used to get released with the Budget, has also become thing from the past now. In order to bring in a new tradition, railway minister Suresh Prabhu is set to launch Indian Railways Freight and Passenger Business Action Plan 2017-18, which railway officials are terming as "mini-budget".
"Traditionally, a normal railway budget has about 135 pages, of which about 100 pages are on the action plan for the financial year. With the budgets getting merged, we are unable to present it before Parliament. Hence, this launch is like a mini-budget," said an official source close to the development. The plan will be launched at the Railway Museum in Delhi on Thursday. The Narendra Modi-led government has broken a 92-year-old tradition of presenting a separate railway budget this year. This was based on a report by Bibek Debroy, a member of Niti Aayog.
The Rail Budget was separated from the main Budget, following the recommendation of a panel headed by British railway economist William Acworth in 1920-21. The rail budget got separated from general budget in 1924, when it accounted 70 per cent of the total budget.
In his merged budget, finance minister Arun Jaitley had said that capital and development expenditure on railways in 2017-18 is set to be Rs 1,31,000 crore. He also proposed a Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh with a safety fund worth Rs 1 lakh crore over five years.
The other initiatives that Prabhu will be launching include a policy to have 'long-term contracts' with major customers.
"This would mean that we will get assured orders from industries like cement, fertiliser and steel. If a particular customer outperforms the contract, he will be given additional concessions of about 5-25 per cent," the official added.
On the other hand, the ministry is flagging off the demonstration run of Ro-Ro (roll on-roll off) service across the National Capital Region -- a Pilot project of Indian Railways for 'green transportation' -- to reduce road congestion and improve environment. The minister will also flag off double-stack dwarf container train.