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  • MODERATOR:

    Hello and welcome to a webchat with Mr Vivek Sahai on hits and misses in the Railway Budget 2016


    VIVEK SAHAI:

    Hello


  • S

    SAMEER

    The US offers tax-free fuel to its railways, while the Indian Railways pays huge taxes — both Central and state taxes. Can't the Indian govt also adopt the US model of taxes? It will leave surplus with the Railways and the need to increase fairs will also be reduced. The Railway, i understand, buys 2.5 MTPA of diesel and pays a total tax of around Rs 6000 crore...

    VIVEK SAHAI

    You are bang on target Sameer. Railways not only pays heavy taxes on its fuel but also pays a cess on diesel which is used for developing road- its competitor. You will be surprised to learn that the Railways are the single largest contributor to this cess! Also, Railways are the single biggest consumer of electricity in the country and is arbitrarily charged the highest tariff all over the States. This is possibly a new version of central grant to the states.


  • U

    UJJVAL JAUHARI

    What according to you was the reason for soft revenue growth in Fy16?

    VIVEK SAHAI

    No proper attention on achieving freight growth and also no timely action for stemming the drop in passenger growth.


  • U

    UJJVAL JAUHARI

    The intent seems to be good as far as proposals are concerned, but looking at no clear financial road map to achieve the same, what is your take on implementation?

    VIVEK SAHAI

    At least the intent is good. Once we go through the statistical details available in the annexures the picture will be clearer. Mr. Prabhu is always leaving these details in his presentation before the Parliament, possibly as a strategy.


  • M

    MANISHA

    Will optional travel insurance be beneficial? How do you think it will work?

    VIVEK SAHAI

    In the absence of details I can't comment on this issue at present.


  • A

    AMIT

    The Rail Budget has set a higher operating ratio target of 92% in FY17, compared with 90% in FY16. what is your take on this? Is it possible to achieve the target without any hikes in tariff or freight rates?

    VIVEK SAHAI

    The performance can be improved also by increasing the volumes of freight tonnage lifted and passengers carried coupled with a very strict control on expenditure. But, Mr. Prabhu avoids giving these details in his main speech, I don't know why.


  • P

    PARAG

    There has been sluggish growth in passenger tariff revenue and goods traffic revenue. Do you think the revenue target of Rs 1.94 lakh crore is achievable?

    VIVEK SAHAI

    If there is a will, there is a way.


  • V

    VINEET

    The railway minister has maintained the status quo on passenger fares and freight rates. What could be the other possible avenues of revenue generation?

    VIVEK SAHAI

    By achieving a healthy growth in both these sectors. In any case, an increase in freight rates will be counter productive. Passenger fares should be increased, but, sadly,even a party with absolute majority in the Parliament has no appetite for it.


  • U

    UDAY

    The railway minister has also unveiled an ambitious plan of spending Rs 8.5 lakh crore on modernisation of rail infrastructure. Though he said LIC had agreed to fund Rs 1.5 lakh crore in the next five years, there are no details for the remaining amount. What is your view on this?

    VIVEK SAHAI

    I am as puzzled as you are.


  • N

    NAVNEET

    There were expectations of a new super-fast train between Delhi and Agra. Despite such huge investment outlay by the Railway Minister today, surprisingly, there was no announcement of any new train or extension of existing trains. What could possibly be the reason for this?

    VIVEK SAHAI

    Any detail of new train if announced on the floor of the House invariably generates vociferous protests from the MPs. Mr.Prabhu has invented a very decent and effective method of avoiding this quarrel.


  • S

    SUMAN KUMAR JHA

    Will you like to give preference to development of self-power-reliant railway stations in India? How about solar-powered, LED-equipped railway stations in the next Budget? Is that a possibility?

    VIVEK SAHAI

    This may be taken up through PPP model. Railways have already provided solar powered equipments on bulk of its Level crossing gates.


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