Union Railways Minister Dinesh Trivedi will present this year's Railway Budget on March 14.
Following are the 10 reasons why the Railway Budget matters.
1. Indian Railways has 114,500 kilometres of total track over a route of 65,000 kilometres and 7,500 stations. It has the world's fourth largest railway network after those of the United States, Russia and China. It carries over 30 million passengers and 2.8 million tons of freight daily.
2. It is the world's second largest commercial or utility employer, by number of employees. It is Indias biggest central ministry in terms of size, employing nearly 1.4 million people. About 40 per cent of the government staff belong to the Indian Railways. The number of people employed by the railways is even larger than the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force combined.
3. For rolling stock, it owns over 240,000 (freight) wagons, 60,000 coaches and 9,000 locomotives.
4. The railways earn Rs 30,000 crore from passenger fares and a hike in this of even 10% could mean the ministry would receive an additional 3,000 crore in a year.
5. The fastest trains of Indian Railways, Rajdhani Express and Shatabadi Express face competition from low-cost airlines since they run at a maximum speed of only 150 kilometres per hour (93 mph).At least six corridors are under consideration for the introduction of high speed trains to India with expert assistance from France and Japan.
6. A panel headed by former nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar had recommended investments to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore to ensure the Railways have the most modern safety features. And the requirement of the safety features is not in doubt any more.
7. Railway officials say that the majority of the losses on passenger fares, comes from the unreserved class in trains and about 8,000 crore came from the reserved classes in which sleeper classes account for Rs 6,000 crore. And those costs can only rise with each year as operational and fuel costs rise.
8. Railways on Tuesday withdrew 4 per cent exemption on fertiliser and foodgrain loading rates besides making a 10-15 percent upward revision of other commodities ahead of Rail Budget. The move is expected to increase prices of an array of goods, ranging from coal to fertilisers.
9. For the Railways, which is expected to garner about Rs 70,000 crore from freight earnings in the current fiscal, this hike would mean a potential to increase annual earnings by up to Rs 18,000 crore.
10. In its Vision 2020 document, Indian Railways has estimated an investment of Rs 14,00,000 crore to provide customer focused and environment friendly sustainable integrated transport solutions. Various projects like adding new lines, dedicated freight corridor, modernisation of stations, implementation of modern signaling systems, electrification of routes, use of efficient technologies etc are expected to be implemented.