SENSEX NIFTY
Feb 26, 2013, 02.43 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Rail Budget 2013 Live: Bansal says no fare hike 'for now'; rail stocks sell-off

Rail Budget Live Commentary: Passenger fares have not been entirely spared of a hike. Charges on superfast trains and tatkal bookings will be hiked.

Moneycontrol Bureau

1:28 pm: Chaos in the house as Bansal struggles with names of new lines that are being surveyed

Market in deep shade of red; the Sensex is down 211.03 points or 1.09 percent at 19120.66, and the Nifty down 64.25 points or 1.10 percent at 5790.50. Rail stocks sell off anywhere between 5 percent and 10 percent.

1:07 pm: Railway commuters can breath easy. Bansal says no fare hike for now.

Only a financially strong organization can meet its operational and social objectives, Minister says, as a justification for the need for higher passenger fares. But since fares were hiked in January, there will be no hike for now. Instead freight charges have been hiked by a little below 5 percent to offset the hike in diesel prices.

But passenger fares have not been entirely spared of a hike. Charges on superfast trains and tatkal bookings will be hiked.

12:57 pm: Railways is hoping to load 1047 metric tonnes of cargo in FY14, about 40 tonnes more than the revised Budget estimate for the current financial year. It hopes to earn Rs 93,554 crore from freight traffic and Rs 42,210 crore from passenger traffic.

“We must be realistic in setting targets,” the minister said.

An investment of Rs 63,000 crore will be needed and the minister said the focus would be doubling of tracks, safety and passenger amenities.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) will be partnered, the minister said

12:46 pm: Minister announces sops for employees like health benefits, houses, etc.

Construction of staff quarters have been constrained and will be done under PPP mode, the minister said. 1.52 lakh vacancies are also to be filled.

There are also plans to make locomotive cabs air conditioned and with water coolers.

Skill development institutes are planned across the country for employees to improve their skills.

12: 48 pm: Sensex now down over 200 points. Tata Motors, Hindalco, ICICI Bank, HDFC big losers, down 3-4 percent. Educomp Solution top loser among midcaps, down over 9 percent.

12:45 pm: Railway takes up Aadhar; ticketing changes 

Will start 1 luxury 'Anubhuti' coach in express trains

With a view to improve services and bring about marked change in amenities, an e-ticketing system would be put in place by December-end. "By this calendar year we will put in place a e-ticketing system to bring about a paradigm change," Bansal promised.

The site will allow 7,200 tickets per minute as compared to 2,000 and will support upto 1 lakh users at a time. It will use advanced fraud control measures to improve sale of tickets.

Railways will use Aadhar data base for bookings and validation of passengers. Also, special a/c coaches 'Anubhuti', to be introduced in select Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains to give excellent ambience with commensurate fare.

The Railways is also looking to provide free Wi-Fi facility in select trains.

12:40 pm: Freight to rise significantly

With FY13 freight traffic target below expected, railways not in a position to hike freight rates. Periodic hike in passenger fares may be the only way out. Freight is the mainstay of Railway's internal revenue generation. Beyond a point, freight users will resist any attempt by the Railways to hike charges.

India will join the league of Russia and China with the amount of freight it will handle.

The first major civil contract of the Dedicated freight corridor has been awarded and works on East and West freight corridors will begin soon, the minister said.

12:34: More power to women

Will create eight women RPF personnel for safety of women, says Bansal

Railway Minister PK Bansal, while delivering the Railway Budget for 2013-2014, says the current safety fund provisioning is inadequate. The aim of railways is to work toward zero-accident situation.

Around 40% of rail accidents and 60% of fatalities occur at level crossings, he added. 

To ensure safety of women passengers, the Railway Ministry plans to create eight women RPF personnel.

A corporate safety plan will also be prepared for ten-year period (2014-24).

No substantial proposals announced yet. Sell-off in market triggers on disappointment. Nifty slips below 5800 first time since November 29, 2012.

12:25 pm: Fare hike on the cards

Bansal suggest that another fare hike is on the cards. He talked about financial soundness something that wasn't done in the past. He also talked about freight bearing the bulk of the costs, and fares still being in huge deficit. The losses on passenger carriage are at Rs 24,600 crore in 2012-13.

This points to another fare hike, unless this is all just a sob story to show how much he is doing for the aam aadmi. If he does carry out a fare hike, it will also be signal that the main budget will not be populist.

Sensex loss deepens; index down 165 points as traders try to offset losses in midcap shares by liquidating positions in frontline shares

Kernex, Kalindee Rail among big losers in railway space, down 5-6%

12:21 pm: Safety paramount

The onerous task of raising Rs 95,000 crore in four years calls for a paradigm shift, Bansal said.

Bansal talks about the stampede during the Maha Kumbh despite the meticulous planning of the railways.

"The incident has shaken us," he told the house adding, railway passengers deserve safe and comfortable travel, he said.

12:10 pm: Bansal begins Budget speech with thanks to Sonia, Manmohan and Rajiv

Bansal says railways must be financial sustainable for the the benefit of the passengers

The Railway Minister begins with thanking Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi for his rise in politics.

12:02 PM: The Sensex falls 0.68 percent, while the Nifty is also down 0.72 percent. Rate sensitive stocks fall as traders lighten positions ahead of the budget and expiry of February derivative contracts on February 28.

Railway stocks are trading mixed as railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal presents the Railway Budget to the Parliament. Titagarh Wagons is down 1.20 percent, Texmaco Rail is down 2.35 percent and Kalindee Rail is down 2.14 percent.  

ICICI Bank falls 2.43 percent, while Tata Motors falls 2.81 percent.

However, shares in India's mobile network operators rallied on Tuesday, with Bharti Airtel rising as much as 9.3 percent, on expectations the government would have to cut the reserve price in the auctions of remaining airwaves.

Bharti is up 2.80 percent while Idea Cellular gains 3.5 percent at 10:43 a.m.

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