Concerned over rising working expenses, the Railway Board has asked its seven zones to review their expenditure on employee allowances for overtime, night duty and travel, and fuel and maintenance, sources have said.
In a quarterly review meeting chaired by Railway Board Chairman V K Tripathi, it was found that the Ordinary Working Expenses (OWE) in current financial year up to May show that the seven zones have exceeded the Railways’ average of 26 per cent increase over corresponding period of previous year, they said.
These zones are Northeast Frontier Railway (37.9 per cent), Northern Railway (35.3 per cent), South Central Railway (34.8 per cent), South West Railway (33.1 per cent), North West Railway (29 per cent), Western Railway (28 per cent) and North Central Railway (27.3 per cent).
In a reply to a query from PTI, the Railways said the total working expenses for Budget Estimate 2022-23 is ₹2.32 lakh crore. As accounts are yet to be audited, the corresponding final figures are only provisional, it said.
“The Railways has issued guidelines on expenditure control and management as circulated by the Ministry of Finance. Austerity and economy measures are being implemented on various fronts. Also, we are optimising fuel consumption and focussing on improvement in inventory management,” it said.
During the meeting, the Railway Board instructed the zones to take “immediate action” to curtail their expenditure and asked the general managers to make an action plan, the sources said.
“Controllable expenditure like OT (overtime), NDA (night duty allowance), KMA (kilometreage allowance) should be monitored very closely,” the Railway Board has told the general managers, sources said.
Additionally, it said zones like Eastern Railway (ER), Southern Railway (SR), North Eastern Railway (NER) and Northern Railway (NR) need to control kilometer allowance — given to running staff who operate trains — while South East Central Railway (SECR), East Central Railway (ECR) and East Coast Railway (ECOR) have been asked to reduce their expenditure on night duty allowance.
Sources said the Railway Board is especially concerned over the rise in expenditure across heads.
The North West Railway (NWR), South West Railway (SWR), Western Railway (WR) and Southern Railway (SR) have been asked to control travelling allowance per person.
South East Central Railway (SECR), North Central Railway (NCR), NWR and South Central Railway (SCR) have been asked to review expenditure on medical cost and SCR, ECOR, SR and WR have been asked to review quarter maintenance costs.
The Railway Board said the expenditure on fuel (traction) in nine zonal railways (NFR, NER, CR, SCR, WR, NR, WCR, NCR, SWR) in the current financial year is above Railways’ increase of 53 per cent.
Expenditure increase in controllable establishments in eight zonal railways is above the Railways’ average of 46.6 per cent is a “cause of concern”, the Board has said.
It also highlighted the expenditure on fuel other than traction over three zones which has also increased manifold, the review has found.
“As accounts are yet to be audited so corresponding final figures are only provisional. As per provisionals, there is an increase in working expense on account of increase in traffic operations post (Covid) pandemic,” the Railways said in a statement.
“Now, as more passengers are travelling, various amenities and auxiliary services have started to incur higher expenditure. Even on freight side, increase in loading also requires better and regular maintenance and also more operation costs in terms of traction bill,” it said.