The Railway Budget to be delivered by Union Railways Minister will be interesting as Mamta Banerjee will try to balance political mileage with practical issues confronting the Railways.
Due to the many calamities and mishaps that took place in 2010 the railway department is expecting two times the budget allotted in the previous year. Currently the railway budget is in tatters and is undergoing a financial crisis. In order to be on top of things railway officials will require an increase in the budgetary support from the Finance Ministry.
On the political front, Mamta will have to deal with demands and sops from different states, including hers, West Bengal, on the other hand she will have to ensure fiscal prudence. On the national level too, she will have to be wary about increase in railwat tariffs, etc., so as not to cause any political harm.
Already, the railway department has requested Rs 39,600 crore as gross budgetary support in 2011 as compared to the Rs 15,875 crore that it received in the 2010 budget. This massive jump in budgetary support is not only for maintenance but also for the ongoing and upcoming railway projects. The railway department also aims at further expanding and modernizing the railway infrastructure of the country.
The Indian business community and the common people expect an increase in the production of wagons, coaches and locos, gauge conversion, and doubling of tracks and laying of more railway tracks. There should also be an increase in the number of trains and freight carriers.
The Railway department has ambitious plans with a target to increase the number of coaches from 3700 in the previous year to 4000 coaches in 2011-12. In the wagon manufacturing segment the department plans to manufacture 18,000 wagons, and as far as locomotives are concerned they are expected to increase by another 5000.
We should also expect the 2011 railway budget to give importance to safety and security issues such as improving the signaling system, train protection warning system and installing safety related technology like Anti-collision devices.