Railway budget consolidates gains, says board chairman


New Delhi : Railway Budget 2008-09, presented by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad to the Lok Sabha Tuesday, aims at consolidating gains made by the organisation in the past four years, said a top railway board official.

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“The thrust of the next year’s budget is to consolidate the position gained so far by equipping the system for higher growth. Capacity augmentation is now a critical requirement of Indian Railways,” said K.C. Jena, Chairman of the Railway Board which administers the Indian Railways (IR).

“Operating ratio in revised estimates has been worked out at 76.3 percent, which is the best ever in the last four decades, bringing the IR in league with the best railways internationally,” Jena said.

“The investible surplus has shown an impressive growth of 25 percent in 2007-08,” he added.

“Besides capacity augmentation, the strategy on the freight front for the next year will broadly dwell on improvement in train operations, rationalisation of maintenance practices and capturing more traffic during the traditionally lean season of freight traffic,” the board chairman told reporters.

“A blueprint has been prepared for the high density network of 20,000 km, which carries 75 percent of the total traffic.”

“Train accidents have been consistently decreasing from 0.41 per million train km in 2003-04 to 0.29 in 2004-05 to 0.28 in 2005-06 to 0.23 in 2006-07,” Jena said.

“The railways recorded 168 accidents in 2007-08 up to January this year as against 173 in the corresponding period last year,” he noted.