As Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget 2017-18, which also included the presentation of the Railway Budget this year, the Finance Minister 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. FM Jaitley allocated Rs 55,000 crore to Indian Railways from the government end. He said that that total capital and development plan for Railways has been pegged at Rs 1.31 lakh crore.
Here is the full speech of FM Jaitley during the presentation of the Railway budget:
Railway portion of Budget speech of Finance Minister 2017-18.
Merger of Railway Budget with General Budget is a historic step.
We are now in a position to synergise the investment in railways, road, water ways and civil aviation for 2017-18 the total capita structure of railways has been tend at 1,31,000 crores. This includes 55,000 crores provided by the Government amongst other things the railways will focus on 4 major areas
1. Passenger safety
2. Capital and development work
4. Financial and accounting reforms
For passenger safety, a rail sanraksha kosh a safety fund a corpos of 1,00,000 crores over a period of 5 years.
Beside seed capital from the government, the railways will arrange the balance from its own resource avenues and from other sources
The government will lay down clear cut guidelines for timeline implementation of various safety works to be funded from this kosh
Unman leveled crossing on BG lines will be eliminated by 2020.Expert international assistance will be harnessed to improve safety preparedness and maintenance practices.
In the next three years throwput which is proposed to be enhanced by 10 %. This will be done through modernization and upgradation of identified corridors.
Railway lines of 3,500 km will be commissioned in 2017-18 as against 2,800 km in 2016-17.
Steps will be taken to launch dedicated trains of tourism and –
Railways have put up joint ventures with 9 state governments, 70 projects have been identified for construction and development.
A beginning has been made with regard to station redevelopment. Atleast 25 stations are expected to be awarded during 2017-18.
500 stations will be made differently abled friendly with lifts and exclators. It is proposed to feed 7000 stations with soloar power in the medium term. A beginning has already been made in 300 stations work will be taken up for 2000 railway station as the part of 1000 mega watt solar mission.
Now coming to Swatch railways,
SMS based clean my coach service has been started. It is now proposed to introduce a coach mitra facility, A single window interface to register all coach related complaints and requirements
By 2019, all coaches of Indian railways will be fitted with bio toilets.
Private plants for environment friendly disposal of solid waste and conversion of biodegradable waste and energy are being set up at New Delhi and Jaipur railway stations. 5 more such solid waste management plants are now being taken up.
Today Indian railways faces stiff competition from other modes of transport, which are dominated by private sector modes of transportation. Transformative measures have to be under taken to make Indian railways competitive and to retain their position at pre eminence. The following steps are threrfore be taken.
1. Railways will implement end to end integrated transport solutions for selected commodities through partnership with logistics, who will provide both front and backend connectivity. Rolling stock and practices to be customized for perishable goods especially agricultural goods.
2. Railways to implement competitive ticket booking facility to the public at large. Service charges on e-ticket booked through IRCTC will be withdrawn. Cashless reservations have gone up from 58% to 68 %. As a part of accounting reform a pool based financial system will be ruled out by march 2019. It will now be our continuous endeavour to improve the operating ratio of the railways. The tariff of the railways would be fixed taking into consideration cost quality of service, social obligation and competition from other forms of transport.