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Railways faces a Rs 2,500 crore shortfall

July 03, 2009 19:28 IST

Chairman of the Railway Board S S Khurana, who addressed his customary press conference on the Railway Budget at Railway Bhavan in New Delhi, said that due to the recession the Railways was facing a shortfall of Rs 2,500 crore (Rs 25 billion) in traffic receipts.

"The 6th Pay Commission disbursement led to an increase in our working expenses," he said.

He also said the Railways had saved Rs 655 crore (Rs 6.55 billion). "Our cash surplus before the dividend was Rs 17,399 crore (Rs 173.99 billion) and operating ratio was 90.4 per cent," he said.

In the new Budget, the emphasis is more on transportation of freight. "The fright loading target has been set at around 882MT, which is 49MT more than the target set for us last year. From freight alone, Railways hopes to net Rs 58,525 crore (Rs 585.25 billion)," said a senior official of the Railway Board.

"The 2009-2010 Budget gives a fresh impetus to the Railways' commitment to improve in a perceptible manner all aspects of rail travel, be it passenger amenities, cleanliness or catering services," Khurana said.

When asked how the Indian Railways planned to avoid the chaos caused by the simultaneous arrival and departure of passengers, an official said this would be possible if the railways upgraded key railway stations on the lines of the arrival and departure lounges at airports.

Khurana did not agree the Railways was battling a slow growth rate and pointed out that from a 5 per cent growth rate in the early part of the year, the growth rate had increased to 9 per cent by June.

Railway Board officials said that since the number of days reserved for booking tatkal tickets had been reduced to two (it was five earlier), the Railways' gross earnings would increase. "Money will be refunded to those who are waitlisted but cannot get their ticket confirmed," he said.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi