Lalu Prasad set to present his fifth rail budget

February 26th, 2008 - 11:48 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) Railway Minister Lalu Prasad is all set to present his fifth budget for his ministry at noon Tuesday amid expectations that passengers may be spared fare hikes and freight rates rationalised further. With polls due in a series of states and general elections due in a year’s time, expectations were once again high for a people-friendly rail budget, which had been Lalu Prasad’s mantra on the previous four occasions.

“This budget will mark the beginning of our vision for Indian Railways over the next 25 years. We will take Indian Railways to new heights - make it the world’s best,” Lalu Prasad said a few hours before his scheduled speech in Lok Sabha.

The increase in both passenger earnings and freight revenues during this fiscal, of around 13 percent so far, is expected to give him enough room to focus on expansion of the network - the world’s second largest under a single management.

“One thing stands clearly proven in these four years - by just increasing fares, you cannot improve the state of railways,” Lalu Prasad had told IANS ahead of the last budget for the current tenure of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

The Indian Railways run more than 11,000 trains every day - 7,000 for passengers - over 108,706 track km, to ferry an estimated 14 million passengers from 6,853 stations across the length and breadth of the country.

This is the only ministry that has a separate budget outside the national budget that will be presented by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Friday to cover the finances for the next fiscal year.

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