The Railway Budget – a requiem


New Delhi, The Indian Railways (IR) is a behemoth employing 1.3 million workmen, lifting more than 1 billion tonnes of freight annually and carrying 24 million passengers in its 12,000 passenger trains each day. Only a few railway systems in the world match or outdo these indices, but one factor that no other railway had matched was that the Indian Railways had its own budget – to be presented every year on the floor of the Parliament. At least this was the case until last year. 2017 will go down in history as the first year when the Rail Budget was subsumed in the General Budget.A separate rail budget has its genesis in the recommendations of the Acworth Committee of 1920 when its chairman, Sir William Acworth, pointed out the need for unified management of the entire railway system and inter alia , recommended that “the Finance department should cease to control the internal finances of the railway, that the railway should have a separate budget of its own….”