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  • OUTLOOK ARENA  >>   VIEWS ON NEWS >>  JULY 6, 2004

    Rail budget: Key highlights

    The railway budget 2004-05 largely turned out to be a non-event. The minister did not raise any tariffs for either the passengers or for freight customers. The key measures announced by the Railway minister are as follows:

    • Indian Railways to spend Rs 141 bn in FY05

    • Handloom, Khadi upholstry to be used in rail compartments

    • Indian Railways to borrow 34 bn from market in FY05

    • Institute of Rescue and Medical Relief (for accident management) to be set up for a consideration of Rs 100 m

    • 650 Km of broad-gauge lines to be added in FY05

    • Full concession to unemployed youth attending Central government job interviews

    • 10% rebate on freight rates of heavy machinery

    • 75% concession to widows of defence personnel

    • Focus on introducing new safety measures and infrastructure

    • No hike in passenger fares for any class

    • No hike in freight fares

    The minister's speech was peppered with barbs to the opposition and veered towards populism. The only saving grace is that the need of the Indian economy is such that railway infrastructure development has to continue at all costs. All political parties recognise that and therefore the move to set up a disaster management centre at Bangalore, as well as continued improvement in rail infrastructure is a positive step, notwithstanding the minister's populism.

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