The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:



The Rail Budget for the year 2015-16 was high on hyperbole but low on content.  In fact, it has spelt out certain intentions with scarce factual details to translate these ideas into reality.  During the first three years of the 12th Five Year Plan, the railways received only Rs. 1.5 lakh crores for investment. Yet, the Railway Minister bombastically promised that in the coming five years, this will increase to Rs. 8.56 lakh crores. 


Though the Railway Minister asserted that Indian Railways will continue to remain an asset of the people but the extent to which he wanted to raise resources for critical infrastructure through the PPP, BOT etc raises serious questions. The budgetary allocations for extending railways to backward and far flung areas and greater access for the poorer sections are totally inadequate.  The railways will henceforth, only, prioritise the unfinished projects. Thus, its social objectives will remain unaddressed.  The Railway Minister’s claim of a reversal of decline with the vision he spelt out hardly inspires any confidence. 


The traffic growth has declined and expenditures outstrip according  to revised estimates.  There are 4.6 crores less originating passengers.  The passenger earnings were short by Rs. 968 crores proving earlier fare hikes to be counterproductive.  Given this, there should not be any euphoria over passenger fares not being raised.  The gross traffic receipts were Rs. 942 crores less as compared to the revised estimates.  The railways success in generating internal resources for plan finances also falls short.  Most importantly, the operating ratio was 2.7 per cent less, only on account of reduction in the international crude oil prices and not due to the railways internal efficiency improvement.


So far as the future is concerned, the operating ratio outlook  is not bright.  Promises on improving safety sounds hollow with low allocation of Rs. 2200 crores  for the railway safety fund.  The allocation on rolling stocks has also declined.


Despite Indian railway freight rates being the highest in the world, the Budget has proposed a 10 per cent freight hike for grains and urea; 6.3 per cent for coal; 3.1 per cent for iron ore; 2.7 per cent for cement and slag and 0.8 per cent for iron & steel, LPG and kerosene. This will only strengthen the current inflationary spiral. This would also adversely impact the competitiveness of railway vis-à-vis the road sector for freight movement.


In sum, this Railway Budget is not going to result in achhe din for the poor, though the  Railway Minister quoted the PM saying that the railways will be an instrument  for `eliminating poverty’.