RBI, Nabard examining errors in farm debt waiver scheme: FM
Rail Budget 2013: What the aam aadmi has to say

Economy Feb 26, 2013

Rail Budget 2013 Live: Nitish Kumar blasts ‘weird, unambitious’ budget

By Arun George

3.02pm: Why no trains for poor state like Bihar? asks Nitish Kumar

Calling Pawan Bansal's maiden effort a "weird" Railway budget, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked why a poor state like Bihar had been ignored. Kumar also questioned why the budget was so non-ambitious, and said it was unbelievable that the government seemed to have no targets and no money.

"I have presented 5 budgets, and always searched for funds to meet targets. But unbelievable that they have the money and no targets! They have a surplus, so its an odd situation. There are many railway schemes, they should have spent money, especially when there are unfinished projects", he said.

The Bihar Chief Minister also asked why new technology was being bought for an anti collision device, when it had already been approved during his own tenure. "Why the delay instead of using trusting techniques?", he asked.

2.18 pm: Bansal details more measures to increase finances for Railways

"Freight will rise from 1 April and charges will rise by 5 percent. We hope to recover Rs 4,200 crore from this", says Bansal. He adds that earnings from cancellation charges, etc will earn only marginal revenue but will help smoothen the overall service.

"For the aam aadmi it is a benefit if there is a cancellation charge on tickets that is higher."

There are some questions from aggressive journalists about superfast charges, an increase in reservation fee and other charges, but Bansal says that given the total cost of a ticket, the increase is negligible. "For the aam aadmi it is a benefit if there is a cancellation charge on tickets that is higher", he says.

2.13 pm: Hope fuel adjustment surcharge will help Rail finances, says Bansal

Bansal is now holding a press conference to further elaborate on the budget he presented a short while ago. Unsurprisingly, the Minister is talking about his decision to impose a fuel adjustment surcharge on passenger fares.

"In January we were forced to raise prices but then diesel prices rose. We hope that with fuel adjustment component the financial health of railways will improve", he said. The Minister also announced in his speech, that the government would not increase passenger fares.

However the surcharge means that fares are likely to be hiked, not just once but potentially twice a year.

1:30 pm: Bansal's first railway budget: unambitious, tepid but thankfully short and sweet

Pawan Kumar Bansal's railway budget managed to surprise everyone by its lack of ambition. There were no grand plans announced, only 22 new train lines that left most MPs enraged and the minister kept talking of ways to save money.

Passenger fares have been spared for now given that next year's a poll year and the fares were raised just this January. Freight charges, however, have not been spared again and there's now a fuel adjustment component that has been introduced that could contribute to boosting inflation. So effectively you lose money whether you travel or not.

1:25 pm: 67 new express, 27 new passenger trains, says minister

The minister announced that there would be 67 new express trains and 27 new passenger trains among other new train services.

The other MPs are letting up though and are still shouting slogans.

The minister ends with a poem that is barely audible and finally comends his rail budget for 2013-14.

Slogan shouting continues with MPs in the well of the House and finally the Lok Sabha had to be adjourned.

1:20 pm: MPs are unamused that there aren't as many train lines as they hoped

MPs are still on their feet shouting slogans against the Railway Minister who is continuing to labour through his budget reading.

He's now onto gauge conversion of tracks and other details.

At one point he noticed even Speaker Meira Kumar was on her feet to calm the protesting MPs, but when he stopped he was advised to continue.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath asked if he wanted to continue and Bansal pointed that he had only one page to go and would not be detered by the shouting MPs.

1:15 pm: Bansal stumbles through new train lines, Swaraj laughs, not all MPs amused

Some projects will be dumped on account of financial constraints and the Railways will take up 22 new projects for new train lines.

Most UPA ministers watch bemused as the Bansal struggles through the various new train services introduced.

Even Sonia Gandhi has a frown on her face as he struggles through the names and Sushma Swaraj doesn't hold back her laughter.

Other MPs are not amused and begin shouting slogans because their constituencies haven't got a train service and Speaker Meira Kumar attempts to calm them.

Bansal continues struggling through names of new lines that are being surveyed.

1:10 pm: Minister announces a whole new range of projects

After sparing passengers, the minister has announced a slew of new projects that the railways will be taking up.

These include local projects across the country.

1:05 pm: Freight to have Fuel adjustment component, passengers spared

Pawan Bansal's tariff increases due to the freeing of diesel prices for bulk users has fallen disproportionately on cargo, where freight tariffs will rise by around 5 percent on an average. Passengers have been spared for now, but this could happen quietly in stages later, though Bansal did not specify when.

The only hike in passenger fares relate to some supplementary charges for fast trains.

The freight hike will add to inflationary pressures in the economy, but this is unavoidable. Meeting the freight traffic target of 1,047 million tonnes in 2013-14, will thus be difficult in an already slowing economy.

If fares remain below cost of operation then railways cannot provide safety and services, the minister said.

"UPA govt is sensitive to needs of people and fare hike was implemented which has brought in Rs 6,000 crore," the minister said.

Fuel adjustment component has taken Rs 3,300 crore from railways coffers, he said.

"A mechanism to neutralise the effect of rising fuel price on fares," Bansal said.

The FAC should be dynamic in nature and changes twice a year in the direction of fuel cost.

It is to be implemented twice a year for freight but passengers will be spared, the minister said. I think we just heard a large sigh of relief across the country.

1:00 pm: MNREGA linked with railways

"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.

MNREGA will be partnered, the minister said

12: 59 pm: Freight and passenger earnings revised downward thanks to higher fuel cost

Both freight and passenger earnings are hit by input costs by rising fuel costs, says Bansal.

As a result of good fiscal management the operating ration has been at 88.8 percent, the minister said.

"One day Railways shall find ways to reduce dependence on GBS to finance projects," the minister said. Another poem about bird and trees. Thankfully not about birds and bees. Too much poetry all round.

12:55 pm: Fiscal discipline will be enforced, says Bansal

"Money saved is money earned," Bansal said, adding there would be no wastage of funds.

For the first time in the last 25 years the Railways did not present any supplmentary demands over the last year. The Railways had to take a loan of Rs 3,000 crore from the Finance Ministry which has been repaid.

"To create a corpus of servicing loans it is proposed to set up a debt service fund," the minister said, following it up with another poem.

12:50 pm: Sops for posthumous gallantry award winners and freedom fighters

The minister announced that Indian Railways would allow card passes for the parents of unmarried posthumous awardees of gallantry awards in the army and police forces.

"Presently freedom fighters are required to renew their passes every year and I have decided to raise it to three years," Bansal said.

12:45 pm: Minister announces sops for the thousands of railway employees

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.

More sops for employees like health benefits, houses, etc.

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.

12:45 pm: New green initiatives

The minister has announced the plan to do away with plastics in catering and solar power plants and solar power powered level crossings.

12: 42 pm: New factories announced

A new factory in Rae Bareli, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh were also announced with the first location inviting jeers for its connection with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

12:40 pm: Foot overbridges also dealt with

Railways will be happy to become partners with the state governments in such projects, said Bansal.

A key shift taking place in the railway budget 2013 is a redefinition of the aam aadmi to recognise the arrival of new, aspiring classes. If the earlier focus of rail budget was to keep second class fares as low as possible, this time the focus is less on low fares and more on amenities. This will make rail travel better, since people have moved on from just basic facilities. They want a better experiemce, beyond cattle class. Hence the talk of Wifi services on trains, launch of Anubhuti luxury coaches, and easy online ticketing, currently a cause of much frustration among railway users.

12:35 pm : Freight to rise significantly

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.

12:30 pm: Lots of changes in ticketing, Aadhar to play big role in railways

Aadhar to be used in Railways and can be efficiently used, Bansal said.

Not just for benefit of booking tickets but also to provide a better interface for pensions and other financial transactions for employees, the minister said

E-ticketing through mobile phones will be allowed soon and updation of ticket status will also be there.

"By this calendar year we will put in place a e-ticketing system to bring about a paradigm change," he 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.

12:27 Sops for physically challenged

Train coaches to be wheelchair friendly, facilities at stations, wheelchairs at stations, Braille in coaches and passenger charts, he said.

Reading between the lines: One should expect a FAC - a fuel surcharge

From the talk on safety, level crossing-related accidents, etc, it appears that Pawan Kumar Bansal will make his fare hikes through the safety cess route. This will push up actual fares without raising base fares. If he now also adds a fuel surcharge to reflect actual changes in fuel rates, we will have a double-fare hike without changing the basic fares. This is what the airlines do.

Bansal may well take a leaf out of Dinesh Trivedi's budget speech. Trivedi said: "I wish to share with the august House that I am contemplating a system of segregating fuel component in the cost associated with passenger services and call it FAC (fuel adjustment component). The FAC will be dynamic in nature and will change in either direction with the change of fuel cost. I must also be forthright and take the House into confidence in mentioning that in the event of any further increase in input costs of railways, it will not be possible for us to keep the passengers cushioned from the impact of such increases."

The FAC was not implemented, but it had the sanction of Pranab Mukherjee. Now that the Congress is holding the railway ministry, FAC could happen this time, especially because diesel prices have been made market-based for bulk users - including the railways.

12:25 pm: New high luxury coaches, promises minister

"There is a demand for high level comfort. Indian railways will provide one coach in some trains with latest amenities," Bansal said.

The coaches will be called Anubhuti coaches, he said.

12:25 pm: Hygiene and amenities to improve, promises the minister

Discontent of passengers with hygiene has been noted, says the minister.

"I am committed to bring about a marked change in the passenger amenities," he said, adding that train schedules should not be at the cost of amenities.

"Meri koshish hai ki yeh surat badalni chahiye," the poetic minister said.

Schemes proposed: Bio-toilets in train coaches, clean train stations, putting up of water bottling plants, launching pilot project to allow passengers to contact housekeeping staff through SMS for coach cleanliness, setting up new mechanised laundries, new electronic boards in trains to provide information.

Free wi-fi will also be introduced in some stations, Bansal said.

12:20 pm: Railways want to reduce accidents and loss of life, says Bansal

The railway minister has said that the Railways will take many steps to improve safety on Indian Railways.

Some of recommendations of Anil Kakodkar and Sam Pitroda commissions have been taken into consideration and will be dealt with, Bansal said.

"No new level crossings anymore. Train protection warning systems. Indigenously developed train anti-colission system to be put in place," the minister said.

He also spoke about curbing the number of accidents that claimed the lives of elephants in the north east to save the lives of these 'gentle giants'.

How are markets taking the budget so far?

Key railway stocks at the start of Rail Budget speech - Gainers: Zicom up 4.3%, BEML up 2.2%, CEBBCO up 3.5%, Concor up 1.9%, Gammon up 0.7%, Losers: Hind Rectifiers down 5.2%, Stone India down 3.1%, Kalpataru Power down 2.9%, Titagarh Wagon down 2.9%, Kalindee Rail down 2.76%

12:15 pm: Railway passengers deserve safe travel

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

The minister highlighted the stampede during the Maha Kumbh despite the meticulous planning of the railways.

"The incident has shaken us," he said.

Railway passengers deserve safe and comfortable travel, he said.

Another fare hike hinted at...

Reading between the lines: the initial comments of Pawan 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.

12:10 pm: Bansal highlights financial woes of Railways

The railways minister points out that passenger and freight rates need to help provide for the growth of the railways.

"Steep input costs had to be met with steep rise in freight rates and has had resulted in delay in providing safety facilities," he said.

Many projects that would have helped Railways improve its networks are not being carried out in a time bound manner as a result, the minister said.

12:00 pm: Bansal begins Budget speech with thanks to Sonia, Manmohan and Rajiv

Bansal says he has mixed emotions and says that democracy gives wings to all but one needs to be connected to the ground.

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

It's a poetic speech so far with poems about the railways.

11:59: Parliament wraps up Question Hour, Bansal gets ready to deliver Railway Budget

After a heated debate on law and order and other issues during Question Hour, its now all being quickly wrapped up in order to allow the presentation of the Railway Budget.

Empty Parliament is now filling up with MPs and there's a buzz around the House as they wait for Question Hour to end and the presentation of the Railway Budget to begin.

11.56 am:BSE Sensex down 120 points ahead of Rail Budget

The market is clearly not expecting very much good news ahead of the Rail budget announcement with about five minutes to go before presentation.

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is indeed in a catch-22 situation.

On one hand he has has to drive revenue growth and on the other he has make sure pockets are not pinched too much given that general elections are due in 2014.

More on that here

11:40 am: Pawan Kumar Bansal gets candid at the breakfast table, says there are many demands to meet

"There are a lot of demands and everyone wants a lot more trains...The demands are a challenge and we have to work with the resources we have. I can only say in a few hours what I can deliver," Bansal said.

"We have been debating many issued over the last few months and we are hoping to improve facilities as much as possible," he said.

Check out the full video below:

11:35 am : What India wants: cleaner trains that are safer and run on time

Expectations as always are high from the Railways Minister as he delivers his maiden Railway Budget.

"I don't mind a fare hike as long as the trains are cleaner," said a passenger in Chandigarh.

Another said that they wanted more security aboard trains and at stations to ensure that passengers felt safer.

And a common grouse is the IRCTC website to book tickets.

https://twitter.com/tinucherian/status/306255359109132291

11:30 am: Safety should be prime concern of Railways, says former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi

Remember Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi who presented the Railways budget last year only to be relegated to the sidelines? Here's what he's said today:

https://twitter.com/ANI_news/status/306283156712067072

11:25 am: Next passenger hike only in June?

So no fare hike this Railway Budget?

https://twitter.com/abpnewstv/status/306281979576479744

11:15 am: Expect a rail budget without drama, says investment advisory firm Macquarie

This year investors are hoping for a repeat of last year's Budget proposals minus the political drama, advisory firm Macquarie has reportedly said, says Moneycontrol.com.

Railway Budget will focus on enhancing infra, safety standards, operational efficiency, quality of service, the firm has said.

Given there's no Mamata Banerjee in the picture this time there won't be any plaudits for the TMC chief, but expect some praise for Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

11:10 am : 100 new trains in the Budget?

Will Pawan Kumar Bansal deliver a century in this Railways budget?

Indian Railways are planning to introduce about 100 trains, including AC double deckers, new
passenger services and extension of services to cater to the demands of various states, PTI had reported earlier.

Sanitation and hygiene will also have a high priority in the budget, the report had predicted.

How much the Railways Ministry will seek from the Finance Ministry also remains to be seen. Bansal is expected to try and balance the requirement of funds ahead of the next election.

11:00 am: Railway stocks suffer in run up to Railways Budget

With fiscal prudence expected to be the theme of Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, railway stocks are taking a hit on the stock markets.

Kalindee Rail has fallen over 3 percent and Texmaco Rail was struggling at Rs 60, down 2.6 percent, reported Moneycontrol.

10:55 am: Lalu may be an ally but has no hope from the present railway minister

Lalu Prasad Yadav who earned a lot of plaudits for his tenure as Railways Minister has been very dismissive of those who have followed him and he's equally dismissive of Pawan Kumar Bansal. Here's what he had to say today:

https://twitter.com/ANI_news/status/306273130480033794

10:45 am : Here's a specific demand from the physically challenged at Vangani

Firstpost's Shruti Dhapola travelled to Vangani in Thane district where's there's a very specific demand: a foot over bridge for the 350 visually challenged people who live in the town. Here's what she found:

For 350 visually impaired people in Vangani, that lies in Thane district, crossing railway tracks is something they are forced to do every day of their lives.The Vangani station, which is one of the oldest stations on the Central Line of the Mumbai's suburban railway network lies between Badlapur and Shelu, has no pedestrian bridges.

According to Dr Atul Jaiswal, who's working in rural areas of Karjat and Vangani for rehabilitation of physically challenged people for the two years as part of a project at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, there are nearly 350 people with visual impairment in a population of 8000 people in Vangani.

In a conversation with Firstpost, Atul said that for the visually impaired in Vangani, the trains are a major source of livelihood

"They are mostly in the hawker business. Not everyone has a full time job. They earn their living by selling daily use items like paper soaps, key chains, locks with chains, card holders, toys etc to the commuters of Mumbai locals," he said.

Read the complete article here

10:30 am : Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal reaches Rail Bhavan

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has reached Rail Bhavan. He is expected to go to Parliament at 11 am and is expected to present the budget at noon.

10: 10 am: Time to sell the property to raise money?

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is likely to raise fares either directly or indirectly for both passenger and freight, but is he ignoring a crucial detail? Firstpost notes that the Railways has large land banks that is sitting on and is doing little about. Here our take:

If he bites the bullet again by increasing fares and freight rates further, it is nothing exceptional. He is just doing something that was long overdue.

The Indian Railways is the largest employer in the world. It has more than 100,000 km of tracks, more than 7,000 stations, runs about 10,000 trains daily and carry millions of passengers daily.

Statistics shows it has the potential to spur growth in an economy, where dangers of slowdown are clear and present. But for this, Bansal has to do some unconventional thinking.

One way would be to utilise the land bank it has. In a pre-Budget interview, YES Bank chief economist Shubhada Rao had told Firstpost that this is one way the government can reduce its fiscal deficit as well.

Here's the complete article

10:00 am: You will have to wait another two hours, says Bansal

Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is typically known for not saying too much and he maintains his reputation by choosing not to give any hint on what to expect in the Railways Budget this year.

Bansal refused to comment on a variety of questions ranging from whether there would be a fare hike or if the Budget would be an aam aadmi budget.

"You will have to comment on it after I present the Budget...I will not be able to comment until I present the Budget before Parliament," a smiling Bansal told reporters.

He has just left for Parliament from his home.

9:45 am: Copies of Rail Budget reach Parliament

Breaking on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/ANI_news/status/306256382699634688

9:30 am: Bansal's wife says he's under no tension and she just wants more safety for women

Pawan Kumar Bansal is known for his eloquence but evidently it runs in his family.

Wife Madhu Bansal says that he is under no stress and the only thing she wants in the Indian Railways is more safety for women. And she's told him that, so expect it for sure in this year's Railway Budget.

"I had told him to include a helpline number for women, they should feel safe while traveling," she said

"No, no he's under no stress," she said, when asked if the Railway Minister was facing a lot of pressure.

"I don't want a rail fare hike, we will have to wait for the rail budget," the minister's wife said.

And the traveler had better want things that the Congress party wants because its on the basis of their line of thought that the Budget is being made.

"Of course the budget will be drawn up in line with the philosophy of the Congress," she said.

We currently have our fingers crossed that the Congress wants cleaner and more efficient trains. And better food (unlike these poor Gujarati travellers who had a unique rats on the train experience)

His son, Amit Bansal, also made a strong case for safety of women and better amenities.

"Security of women and passengers is of most importance. Security and food of good quality those were the main reasons of increasing the fares as there had not been an increase for almost a decade," he said.

9:20 am: What we can really expect..

The minister has already promised a 24X7 helpline for women that will be tracked real time, with top priority accorded to safety of passengers, especially women.

"The safety and security of passengers, especially women, is top priority of the Indian Railways," Bansal told IANS in an interview. "It's not possible to deploy women constables in each of the 51,000 coaches. But soon there would be round-the-clock toll-free helpline for women and this will be tracked on real-time basis."

He has also promised a slew of passenger-friendly measures such as improvement in catering service, maintaining cleanliness at rail premises, introducing Braille stickers in coaches for visually-challenged passengers and development of stations in his maiden Rail Budget.

Here are some things we can expect:

Speedier trains (punctuality might help more)

Development of stations

Better cleanliness and hygiene (Promise karne mein kya jaayega?)

Separation of passenger and freight train lines (won't happen unless a Lot more tracks are laid)

Developing a corporate culture (casual Fridays coming soon to the Railways?)

New tax on passenger amenities (pay to use to the loo? Start carrying one rupee coins when travelling)

Fuel cess on passenger fares (costlier tickets)

More projects for Uttar Pradesh (Guess where Rae Bareli and Congress' two pillars Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party are from)

Mumbai to get a third Rajdhani Express (Mamata-didi won't be happy about this)

(Also expect a few trains headed to the Railway Minister's constituency and a major Indian Railways project in Rae Bareli )

9:15 am : What an average Indian Railways passenger wants...

Every Railways Minister claims to be catering to the aam aadmi but what does the aam aadmi really want? Firstpost columnist Mahesh Vijapurkar says all he wants is clean trains and basic sanitation on trains when he travels.

Here's a brief list of what he wants:

Keep the platforms clean.

Rid them of the stink of the excreta and urine that emanate not only from the unusable public toilets on platforms but also the trains themselves.

Do it by installing toilets which don't drain as they are used but has a tank to collect the stuff and above all, mechanise their cleaning without using humans as scavengers. The Indian Railways is as worse an offender as a backward village where one human's excreta becomes another's head load.

Ensure standardisation of items sold, especially the unpacked food - not only by weight and volume but also in quality. Rid the platforms of the hawkers who bring stuff to sell, cooked god knows where, wearing uniforms that mislead you to believe they could be from the Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation.

Read the complete column here

What is it that you would like to hear in the Railway Budget this year? Let us know..

9:00 am: No fare hike but a fuel cess in ticket price instead?

There's already been one fare hike in January but is it time for another? In keeping with its reforms tag before the next elections, the Railway Minister may not completely do away with populism either.

So there may be no fare hike. But you might still might end up paying more for your train ticket. How? Here's what we discovered:

In order to compensate for the high fuel bill, the government is likely to introduce a fuel adjustment component and a passenger amenities cess which will contribute to a hike in rail fares, sources told IBN Live.

Other surcharges could be in the form of a surcharge on Tatkal tickets, additional reservation charge, or on use of 'clean toilets' or clean stations surcharge etc.

Expect another fuel adjustment charge that will be about how many paise per kilometre you will have to pay. And that might add up to a pretty sum given none of us travel just one kilometre on Indian Railways.

Read the report here

8:45 am: No luck for railway ministers, at least those from the Congress

A quick look at the fortunes of the Railway Ministers for the past 25 years show that barring Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar, the political career of the others has not been all that rosy after their stint was over.

The Rail budget is due to be presented by PK Bansal in a few hours.

Pawan-Bansal-AFP_380

Bansal with his maiden railway budget. AFP

Kalmadi, who was the last Congress Railway Minister 16 years ago, is facing the heat in the wake of the Commonwealth scam and has been lodged in Tihar jail for a while now.

Then there was the saga of Dinesh Trivedi last year.

Trivedi, who presented the last Railway Budget, lost his job in a matter of days despite his exercise coming in for a rave reviews - from everyone apart from whom it mattered the most that is. The fare hike effected by him earned the wrath of his party chief Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who soon airdashed to Delhi to ensure his immediate exit.

Mukul Roy, a trusted lieutenant of Banerjee, who was brought in place of Trivedi, could last just a few months, as the TMC parted ways with the UPA and saw all its Ministers tendering their resignations.

Lalu Prasad, who was the Railway Minister in the UPA-I, saw his political career derail after he made the bad political choice of dumping the Congress in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls along with Lok Janshakti leader Ram Vilas Paswan, also a former Railway Minister, and contested seperately.

From the second largest constituent in UPA-I, Lalu's RJD was reduced to just four members in the new House as against 25-odd MPs in the previous Lok Sabha.

Read more here

8:35 am: Why we don't need another Railway Budget

Has the price hike by the Railways been just a sham given the rising fuel cost and operational costs?

Firstpost's R Jagannathan had pointed out how the fare hike cannot be classified as reforms and had even told previous Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi not to bother delivering one. Did he listen? No. And look what happened to him.

Read the full article here about why the recent passenger fare hike wasn't the reform it pretended to be

8:30 am: The love affair between Indian Railways and Bollywood

For many years trains have lend a quaint romantic charm to many Bollywood films. The rhythmic sounds of the train, with its shrill whistle punctuating its motion have fascinated many a filmmaker, so much so, that Indian railways, which an integral part of life for common man, has been immortalised in many films over the decades.

Check out how Bollywood has doffed its hat to the Railways in the past

8:20 am: Indian Railways has always been a favourite protest tool

Want a good protest? Block the Railways. Here are some images through the years of how people have always blocked the arterial railways to prove a point or just because they were upset and weren't being heard.

Check out the photos post

by Arun George

Related Stories.