Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge presented the Interim Railway Budget 2014 in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday amidst uproar by Seemandhra MPs protesting against Telangana. There has been no change in passenger fares while 72 new trains have been introduced.
Kharge has proposed passenger rail services to Katra for the pilgrims going to Vaishno Devi.
Reaching out to the Northeast Indian region, Kharge has said that the railways map will also include Meghalaya. “510 KM long rail link will be a big boon for the Northeast. Meghalaya will also be a part of Railways map,” Kharge said.
Kharge has also said that Arunachal Pradesh capital Itanagar too will be part of the rail map in Financial Year 2014.
Kharge had to cut his Rail Budget speech short due to continuous protests by Seemandhra MPs against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The Lok Sabha has been adjourned till Thursday.
This is the last budget of the most turbulent phase of the Indian Railways. The two parties that ruled the railways in the past five years, Congress and Trinamool Congress, blamed it on each other.
“Pawan Bansal was accused of bribery, Mallikarjun Kharge is of no use, both spoiled the railways,” said Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy. But Congress MP Oscar Fernandes has said that Railways is on the right track. “Railways is on track as development is taking place,” Fernandes said.
In the past five years, the Rail Bhawan saw six new ministers. For the first time in 17 years, the portfolio went to the Congress. Pawan Bansal did end 10 years of populism by announcing a hike in passenger fare, but soon exited on charges of corruption.
The episode shook the Railways raising questions over the system, which most saw as opaque. Experts say the Railway Board is equally responsible for derailing the Railways.
Rail Budget 2014: Highlights
– 17 premium trains announced
– 38 express trains announced
– 10 passenger trains announced
– 4 MEMU and 3 DEMU trains announced