Railway Budget 2019-20 Highlights: Record Rs 1.58 lakh crore planned expenditure, safest year for Indian Railways, and a Vande Bharat impetus for ‘Make in India’ – Union Finance and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s Railway Budget 2019 had points to cheer for the common man. For one, Goyal declared that Indian Railways saw its safest year! For another, train sets like Train 18, now Vande Bharat Express, will offer world-class travel experience to passengers in the coming years. Additionally, the operating ratio, a measure of Indian Railways financial health, improved and further improvement is being eyed. Goyal announced that the operating ratio for the current fiscal year has improved to 96.2% and in the next financial year the aim will be to have it at 95%.
Vande Bharat Express was pitched by Goyal as the indigenous technology leap that will ensure speed, service and safety in rail travel. As part of his Railway Budget 2019 speech, Piyush Goyal said that Vande Bharat Express is a ‘Make in India’ initiative that will help create more jobs as more such train sets are manufactured for service across the Indian Railways network. Piyush Goyal announced an outlay of Rs 64,587 crore for Indian Railways.
Highlighting Modi government’s big achievement on safety, Piyush Goyal said that his ministry has eliminated all unmanned level crossings on the broad gauge network. This feat was achieved on January 31, 2019, when the last unmanned level crossing was removed. No railway fare hike was announced in Railway Budget 2019, given the fact this is the year of Lok Sabha elections 2019. Doing away with the colonial ear practise of having a separate Railway Budget, Modi government merged the document with the main Union Budget from 2017 onwards. Yet, Indian Railways being the national transporter, finds a special mention in the Budget speech and this year will be no different.