The Railways has decided to cut outlay on various crucial fronts with the Centre, making it clear that it would not provide any additional funds to meet its revenue shortfall.
That is how tough the job of new finance commissioner Rajendra Kashyap, who assumed charge on Monday, is, required not to exceed expenditure beyond the resources the Railways can internally generate.
There has been a revenue shortfall of about Rs. 4000 crore, the bulk of which — about Rs. 3000 crore — was under the passenger segment in the first half of the current fiscal. But with the Centre sticking to its austerity measures, extra budgetary support has been ruled out completely.
Projects like construction of new lines, doubling and gauge conversion financed under the gross budgetary support of Rs. 26000 crore are unlikely to be affected. In fact an additional Rs. 600 crore is expected for financing national projects in the north east during the current financial year.
But the ones which depend on internal generation of resources like repair and maintenance, track renewal and replacement of signalling gears — all of which have a direct bearing on safety of trains and passengers — will be deferred.
Officials admitted that they had no option on this score though going slow on replacement of old equipment was not a good proposition. Even peripheral areas like construction of quarters for staff have to take a back seat.
Mr. Kashyap, however, said the dip in passenger earnings had stabilised in September through a number of measures like intensifying checking against ticketless travelling, which was mostly due to the hike in fares.
But the rise in fares would prevent the losses in the passenger segment from widening. It is expected to remain at Rs. 26000 crore during the current financial year. Mr. Kashyap explained that the objective always is to recover just about 60 per cent of the cost in the passenger segment.