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Should we have a separate railway budget?

February 23, 2010

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?

Commentators have called for abolishing the practice of having a separate railway budget.

Going by the logic of importance shouldn’t the defence budget with its size and a crucial bearing on life and limb deserve a separate budget instead of railways?


It’s a colonial-era relic that we need to abolish. All Railway Ministers do now is introduce special trains for their respective states and constituencies. This could easily be part of the main Budget.

Posted by Toe Knee | Report as abusive

There is no strong logic why should railway have a separate budget. In one way this is misutilized by the railway ministers by just giving more focus on his/her area by introducing series of new train and localized names (like, Barib rath, Duronto etc.) at the same time neglecting other zones/parts of railway. I strongly beleive that it should be part of main budget and a group of experts (like it happens for any state owned corporation) should drive the strategy rather than localizing a national/public sector by railway ministers.


Considering the extent of areas covered by the Indian railways and they being the lifeline of the common Indians for travelling across destinations within the country. Railway budgets should ideally be non-partial and pro common man. If this is not the case currently, government should certainly take a call

Posted by Richie | Report as abusive

We must think before we act. We don’t necessarily need to carry forward the colonial practices. Going by its present size and contribution to union budget, separate rail budget is not required and must be stopped forthwith.

Posted by Straight Forward | Report as abusive

Its good to know what is happening with railway thru this budget unlike many other state owned organizations. We don’t know whats going on in Govt institutions like BSNL/MTNL, Doordharshan etc…

I think we need to have budgets for all Public sector undertakings, at least the minimum information on their incomes and future plans.

Posted by Phani Neti | Report as abusive

Over the years Railway Budget has been primarily used by the incumbent Railway Ministers to clearly prove their lack of national foresightedness. Budget after budget the legacy carries on, no one talks of basic infrastructral development; all projects are meant majorly for the constituency of the minister or at best his/her state. Projects are announced keeping in mind the impact it will have on his/her popularity chart and hence the years of populus budgets. The announced projects are then kept in cold storgae; consider the project announced by Lalu Prasad Yadav in 2004 for Madhepura and Chapra…least said the projects are yet to see the light of the day.

Merely annoucing new trains is probably not the solution; think of the cleanliness of the platforms, the food, the problems faced by the comuters, the security concerns and above all despite the surge in number of trains people still fail to get their tickets. Number of trains are increasing on a yearly basis but what about the tracks to sustain them; travel in an express and super fast trains (for namesake) and you’ll realise that you are commiting a crime upon yourself by not travelling in a Rajdhani.Its a pity, that all other trains have to stop so that Rajdhani can have a clear passage…certainly infrastructural bottlenecks. Why isn’t there any initiative taken by the ministry to see to it that trains do not run late. Last but not the least why do you pay negligible attention towards the railway conectivity of the North East, they too are an integral part of India.

If populism is the only objective then the same can be met in the union budget too …why a seperate budget … a sheer waste of time and resource(paper, power et al).

Posted by G K KASHYAP | Report as abusive

Certainly. Why not..? If this ensures that facilities on the current running trains are increased to a level at par with the increasing number of passengers everyday, then yes, the railways should get a separate budget. But that’s just asking for a bit too much, isn’t it..? It seems impossible to maintain a certain standard with the trains running, I wonder what would happen of more trains were introduced. Sure, it would create jobs, but, who will ensure that at least, the food, a very small part, yet an important one, is decent..? Maybe the minister should focus on the existing network, than introducing more trains for W Bengal (rest of India??)

Posted by Tanushree | Report as abusive

Try and look beyond what you term as political grandstanding and coalition era politics. Like it or not, the object of your spite – the Railway Budget – has the nation tuned in. And that is not without reason – the network not only connects India’s billion-plus population, but also keeps alive a million hopes of a better future.

Whatever the pattern of government finances, Indian Railways makes a big contribution to the nation’s GDP, ferrying goods and raw materials that keep the economy running. A government undertaking of this size does warrant a separate budget if the government is serious about economic growth.

Your inference based on “logic of importance” brings us to the question – how many of us wake up thinking about what is better for our guards at the border – a bazooka or a toy gun? I think a toy gun would be as effective, given the fact that weapons are infiltrators and terrorists still manage to fool our soldiers.

Defence is important, but not a matter of daily concern for you and me, as opposed to say whether a train will stop at our railway station or not. Defence does not contribute to India’s GDP, and only drains away the nation’s wealth. Billions of dollars are being pumped into defence strategies worldwide for a doomsday situation that hopefully none want to see. So why a separate budget?

Tomorrow if the railway budget is scrapped or included in the main budget, you’ll have a blog questioning why it was scrapped, right?

Posted by aam admi | Report as abusive

Strictly No, If railway had seperate budget then why not for health, defence, infrastrucure and social welfair. If all these are covered in Main Budget then their is no need of seperate railway budget

Posted by Aashish Nigam | Report as abusive

There is no logic for having seperate railway must be the part of main budget ultimately money comes from public.

Posted by meena bhatt | Report as abusive

Budgeting is an exercise of estimating growth and giving it a direction. Whereas there are several areas that require this kind of analysis and action, all these use Railway Infrastructure for their achievements. It is therefore required that a thorough budgeting exercise is to be done to this national public cheap transport system still viable, affordable and efficient. Progress of Railways can lead to progress of any other trade and commerce, mobility that is required for any other economic activity. If specialised attention is not given Railway will suffer funds, planning and execution as an independent player in national economy. Some of the best things of colonial rule need to be maintained and practiced better than their predecessors than outrightly dis-owning them.

Posted by Satish V Itagi | Report as abusive

We have the opportunity to go in to details of railway budget because it is presented separately. I suggest for more segements budgeting and then a consolidated budget. (i) Agriculture, (ii)Textile, (iii)Defense, and(iv) Education are few main segments. Each segment should have detailed Plan Expenditure and Revenue Expenditure. Sources of taxes & other revenue in detail may be presented separately. Let common man understand fully, have sense of responsibilities towards nation building and let government receive more valuable input for revenue generation and plan expenditure from general public so that they can correct their shortcomings in future

Posted by Selvaraj | Report as abusive

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