Rail Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu while presenting the Railway Budget for 2015 by appealing to none other than the almighty, to highlight the dire straits of the national transporter and the difficulty of implementing large scale reforms needed for the massive organization.
Prabhu announced the operating ratio target of 88.5 per cent for the next fiscal -- lowest in last nine years and last witnessed during the times of former rail minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. “I asked, Hey Prabhu! How will all this happen,” the minister said during the beginning of his budget speech to the amusement of those in attendance.
Operating ratio is the amount of money spent to earn every Rs 100 and is a key indicator of railways financial health. Prabhu said the ratio for the coming fiscal will also be the lowest since the announcement of the sixth pay commission that has continued to impact railways finances over the past six years.Read our full coverage on Union Budget
The operating ratio target for the current financial year was 91.8 per cent and the railways is on track to meet that goal, Prabhu said, adding that that in the new year the ministry will look at newer avenues of financing. “We are talking to multi-lateral organizations for securing long-term financing and technology from overseas,” he said.
The rail ministry will spend over Rs 8.5 lakh crore over the next five years in a host of areas including capacity augmentation, modernization, passenger amenities and safety but will not hike passenger fares, Prabhu announced, highlighting the political sensitivity associated with tinkering with railway fares.
The minister told the Parliament, his ministry will work on five key “drivers of action” – adopting a medium term perspective planning including a new White Paper; building partnerships with PSUs and funding agencies; Leveraging funding opportunities including Pension Funds; revamping management practices and systems; and setting standards for governance and transparency.