Ahead of the Interim Budget 2024 on Thursday, railways stocks rallied up to 5% amid a broader consensus of 15-20% higher capex allocation over the previous year to the Indian Railway by the government despite the event being a vote on account.

The gains were led by Jupiter Wagons which jumped 5% to the day’s high of Rs 404.40 on the NSE. It was followed by Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) and Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) which were up 4% and 3.2%, respectively around 1:20 pm. Others, including Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), RITES, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), Texmaco Rail & Engineering, Titagarh Rail Systems jumped up to 3%.

Axis Securities expects the government capex to go up by 10-15% in FY25 versus the target of Rs 10 lakh crore pegged by the government for the fiscal year FY2024. Allocation for railways has increased by 49% over FY23 BE at Rs 2.41 lakh crore for FY2024, Axis said in a note. The other beneficiaries from higher allocation will likely be roads, water, metro, defence, digital infrastructure and green technologies.

Axis has put its bet on state-run RITES.

Meanwhile, Nuvama’s expectation from the government is a 15-20%+ year-on-year uptick in allocations led by further expansion of DFC (dedicated freight corridor), rolling stock, HSR (high-speed railway) networks, etc as outlined in NRP.”Even if railways’ capex allocation remains stagnant, we will still see higher allocation towards the private sector versus self-capex ordering done earlier,” Nuvama said in a budget note.Brokerage Sharekhan said that a higher allocation could be expected towards track optimisation and rolling stock acquisition. The resources could be utilised towards safety, revamping existing tracks and bridges, high-speed railway corridors and upgradation of stations, it said.William O’Neil said that the private sector’s expectations that the National Railways Network plan and the preservation of the 3,000 MT mission are kept intact.

Railways may see the highest increase in allocation, with spending going up by 40% YoY in FY 24YTD, Nirmal Bang said. “Our capex pipeline report had also indicated that the Railways is leading from the front in central government and CPSE project announcements in FY24,” this brokerage said.

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