Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Union Budget 2017-18 had a slew of announcements for Indian Railways – from doing away with a service charge for IRCTC ticket booking to the proposal to list IRCTC, IRCON and IRFC. FM Jaitley said that the total capital and development outlay for Indian Railways will be Rs 1.31 lakh crore, out of which the government will provide Rs 55,000 crore. The announcement for Indian Railways focused on four broad themes; safety, capital and development focus, financial accounting reforms and Swachhh railways. A Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh has been proposed with a corpus of Rs 5 lakh crore over a period of 5 years. There are proposals to introduce dedicated trains for tourism, remove unmanned level crossings, install bio-toilets in all coaches by 2019. Jaitley said that attempts will be made to improve Indian Railways operating ratio.
Here is what Aloke Bajpai, CEO & Co-Founder, ixigo.com had to say:
“Kicking off on a good note, this year’s Railway budget brought happiness to many with the removal of service charges on bookings made through IRCTC – indicating the government’s focus to drive more digital transactions.
Railway budget 2017 has laid out big investments in terms of infrastructure by claiming to invest up to Rs.3,96,135 crore in infrastructural development during the next financial year – we hope to see more technological advancements including high-speed trains along with an increased focus on rail safety. This year’s rail budget of Rs.1.31 trillion is the highest ever till now, and about 8% more than last year.
A couple of announcements such as Raksha coach, clean my coach services, coach Mitra facility for registering complaints and installation of bio-toilets indicate the fact that Railways wants to attract back travellers by improving cleanliness, safety and passenger comfort.”