The budget speech lacked details and the announcements in the coming weeks will be important to understand the specifics

Welcoming the Narendra Modi-led government’s first Railway Budget, various industry bodies and analysts termed the budget as ‘forward looking’, ‘practical’ and ‘well thought off’.

CII Special Task Force on Railways, Chairman and CII, President Designate, Sumit Mazumder said, “The Minister (Railway Minister D. V. Sadananda Gowda) has presented a practical and execution-oriented Budget, laying emphasis on implementation of on-going projects and focusing on monitoring them for an early closure…CII appreciates the increased attention to improvement in passenger amenities and safety.”

Industry body FICCI’s President Sidharth Birla opined that Mr. Gowda has tried to put the railways back on track and attempted a balance between commercial and social obligations.

He added, “We welcome the proposal for financing bulk of future projects through PPP route that will help overcome the constraint of low investment, enhance connectivity and accelerate the process of modernisation.”

Manish Agarwal, Leader Capital Projects and Infrastructure at PwC India, said the budget is quite practical in focusing on completing ongoing projects and enabling online tracking of project status.

“Some thought seems to have been given on the need for different PPP models as well as potential areas for leveraging PPP capability; however, given limited success on station-modernisation projects so far, the implementation roll out remains to be seen,” he added.

Likewise, Arvind Mahajan, who is Partner and Head of Infrastructure and Government Services at KPMG in India, said, “Focus on passenger amenities gets a significant boost compared to the past…The introduction of bullet trains, high speed trains, upgradation of IT infrastructure including next generation e-reservation system are the steps in the right direction and addresses the long felt need of modernising the Indian Railways.”

He, however, added that while there was discussion on PPP and FDI in Indian Railways, the budget speech lacked details and the announcements in the coming weeks will be important to understand the specifics.

“What we missed was any discussion on Railway Tariff Authority as it is critical for attractive private investment in Indian railways,” he added.

Stating that the budget appears to be “very well thought out” and having something for all its stakeholders without being populist, Jaijit Bhattacharya, Partner, Infrastructure and Government Services, KPMG in India said in addition to all the positive steps laid out in the Rail Budget, it would have been helpful if there was focus on non-traffic revenue generation to enhance profitability of Railways. Also, measures should be adopted to enhance domestic capability for modernization of Railways.”

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