India Inc on Wednesday said the government's focus on modernisation and expansion of the country's vast rail network without touching passenger fares and freight rates was a step in the right direction.
Expressing happiness on no populist measures being incorporated in the budget, PHD Chamber of Commerce President Sharad Jaipuria said: "The focus was rightly on attracting huge investments to upgrade, modernising and expanding railways as per aspirations of people and attempting to bring in foreign direct investment (FDI)."
Passenger fares and freight rates were left untouched in the interim rail budget, which talks about plans about involvement of private sector and FDI as part of efforts to modernise the largest transport network in the country.
"Increased private participation, as rightly noticed by the government, seems to be the way of future development. The increased efforts towards unlocking the value of railway assets would go a long way in achieving this objective," Assocham president Rana Kapoor said.
Presenting the interim budget for four months in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said an independent Rail Tariff Authority is being set up to rationalise fares. He also said there was a proposal to expand dynamic pricing of tickets in line with the airline industry.
He announced the launch of 17 new premium trains, 39 express trains and ten passenger trains in the coming year and providing rail connectivity to Katra and Vaishnodevi in Jammu and Kashmir, and Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh in the Northeast.
Annual Rail Plan has been pegged at Rs 64,305 crore (Rs 643.05 billion) with a budgetary support of Rs 30,223 crore (Rs 302.23 billion).