The railways' operating ratio, that has been consistently above 90 percent for the past five years, suggests how much money is spent on day-to-day operations to earn the revenues, giving an indication of the funds left for safety and expansion.

READ MORE: Prabhu promises to raise Indian Railways to global standards

"I have proposed an operating ratio at 88.5 percent -- as against the targeted ratio of 92.5 percent for 2014-15, which has improved to 91.8 percent," Prabhu said presenting the Railway Budget for 2015-16 in the Lok Sabha.

"This (proposed) operating ratio will be the best in nine years," he said.

MUST READ: Read full coverage on 2015-16 Rail Budget

While a ratio of 93 percent means it saves just 7 paise on every 1 rupee it earns from operations, the latest rail budget comes at a time when its finances and efficiency are, perhaps, at their worst.

Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu with MoS Manoj Sinha at Rail Bhavan before leaving for Parliament to present the Rail Budget 2015-16

Globally, a figure of 75-80 percent or lower is what is seen as a healthy benchmark, but India ranks among the worst networks on this count.

Prabhu has said the railways need $100 billion or Rs.6 lakh crore in funding over the next 3-4 years.

No hike in fare, says Suresh Prabhu

Without tinkering with passenger fares, Minister Suresh Prabhu presented his maiden budget for Indian Railways in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, promising to balance passenger needs and long-term interests of the organisation and benchmark it globally on quality, safety and reach.

"There will be no hike in railway passenger fares. We will focus on improving passenger amenities including cleanliness," Railway Minister Prabhu said.

A security official stands guard over bags of documents related to the Railways Budget outside Parliament House

"Railways facilities have not improved substantially for the past few decades which is the result of under-investment that affects capacity, leading to poor morale. This fed into vicious cycle of chronic under-investment for a long time," he said.

MUST READ: Rail Budget: History at a glance

Emphasising that safety, quality of service, standards and efficiency all suffered due to poor financial resources available with the Indian Railways in recent decades, the minister said all this further fed into the vicious cycle of poor investment.

"This must be put to an end," said the chartered accountant-turned-politician, who was handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to head one of the largest railway network in the world.

Indian Railways workers clean train coaches at a railway station in Secunderabad

"We have to make Indian Railways a benchmark organisation in safety, security and infrastructure."Earlier Prabhu presented a white paper on Indian Railways, which he said will form a trilogy of what plans he had in mind for one of the largest such networks in the world along with his budget for 2015-16 and a Vision 2013 document to be presented later in the year.

He also set four goals to transform Indian Railways: Improved customer experience, safer travel, modern infrastructure and financial self-sustainability. "We will also create a separate department for taking care of cleanliness."

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