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Railway Budget
'Very business like and smart; Rail Budget focuses on delivery not populism'
Clearly spelling out the economic model of the Narendra Modi Government, the Railway Budget is banking heavily on involvement of the private investment- both domestic and overseas on modernization and a smart functioning of the country's largest transport operator.

Industry body ASSOCHAM while expressing its views on the rail budget said that the emphasis of the budget was clearly on improving efficiencies, passenger amenities with promise to take them to global standards and the much-needed safety of passengers.

The industry body said that the Railway Budget opened up vast opportunities for the public-private-partnership in a whole gamut of areas including cleanliness, upkeep of major stations like the airports, IT infrastructure. The smart strategy lies in trying to get the new businesses out of the sheer necessities and ordinary looking but important services such as catering.     

"Besides, a clear strategy has been spelt out to retrieve the Railways' share in the freight movement. Though the freight movement gives over two-third revenue to the organisation, it had been neglected in the past. IT-driven parcel management and special trains for parcel movement for capitalizing on the growing e-commerce business is an intelligent move," said ASSOCHAM in a statement. 

ASSOCHAM expressed hopes that unlike in the past, the PPP models would attract a lot of private and overseas investment as the new government enjoys a great amount of credibility to deliver.  For the first time perhaps, the Railways Minister's Budget speech read like speech of a Rs 1,47,000 crore corporate which is wanting to go about servicing its customers.

The Railway Budget is a peek into the regular Budget to be presented by Finance Minister on July 10, which is expected to follow economic, rather than populist line. 

Welcoming the thrust on resource mobilisation in this year's rail budget, FICCI President  Sidharth Birla said, "The Railway Minister has tried to put the railways back on track and attempted a balance between commercial and social obligations. We welcome the proposal for financing bulk of future projects through PPP route that will help overcome the constraint of low investment, enhance connectivity and accelerate the process of modernisation."

Importantly, the Minister has focused on improving the safety and security systems including use of ultrasonic system to detect problems on railway tracks and phased elimination of unmanned level crossings, FICCI President added. 

"Setting up of a project management group at the level of Railway Board and a project monitoring & coordination group is a positive step as this would help in reducing delays in project execution", Mr Birla observed.

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