Railway Budget 2017: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made a slew of announcements for Indian Railways – from doing away with service charge for IRCTC ticket booking to 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.
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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.
Jaitley brought a big cheer to railway passengers, when he announced that the service charge on booking of tickets through IRCTC will be removed. In the first combined Union Budget-Railway Budget, FM Jaitley said that Indian Railways will undertake transformative steps to better compete with other modes of transport.
Here are 10 points that the Budget for Railways focused on:
1) For 2017-18, the total capital and development expenditure of Railways has been pegged at Rs 1,31,000 crore. This includes Rs 55,000 crore provided by the Government
2) For passenger safety, a Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh will be created with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of 5 years
3) Unmanned level crossings on Broad Gauge lines will be eliminated by 2020
4) In the next 3 years, the throughput is proposed to be enhanced by 10%. This will be done through modernisation and upgradation of identified corridors.
5) Railway lines of 3,500 kms will be commissioned in 2017-18. During 2017-18, at least 25 stations are expected to be awarded for station redevelopment
6) 500 stations will be made differently abled friendly by providing lifts and escalators.
7) It is proposed to feed about 7,000 stations with solar power in the medium term
8) SMS based Clean My Coach Service has been started. ‘Coach Mitra’, a single window interface, to register all coach related complaints and requirements to be launched
9) By 2019, all coaches of Indian Railways will be fitted with bio toilets. Tariffs of Railways would be fixed, taking into consideration costs, quality of service and competition from other forms of transport
10) A new Metro Rail Policy will be announced with focus on innovative models of implementation and financing, as well as standardisation and indigenisation of hardware and software. A new Metro Rail Act will be enacted by rationalising the existing laws. This will facilitate greater private participation and investment in construction and operation.
Additionally, Railways will implement end to end integrated transport solutions for select commodities through partnership with logistics players, who would provide both front and back end connectivity. Rolling stocks and practices will be customised to transport perishable goods, especially agricultural products. As part of accounting reforms, accrual based financial statements will be rolled out by March 2019.