INDIA-BUDGET/RAILWAYSA railway budget separate from the general budget started in 1924 because the railways then formed more than a third of the budget.

A dedicated budget for railways was called for.

However the pattern of government’s finances has changed and the railways despite the impressive statistics - 63,327-kilometre network, 18 million passengers,  two million tons of freight – is less important.

Although being the largest state-run enterprise, the immense power of patronage it embodies makes it politically very lucrative.

In the coalition era, the ministry has always gone to an ally with considerable political heft.

But does that justify a separate budget and what some say is political grandstanding by whoever be the reigning railway minister?