Railway Budget 2018: In the Union Budget 2018-19, Railways witnessed a modest increase in allocation compared to previous year’s allocation in the sector. Rs 1.48 lakh crore is allocated this years compared to 1.3 lakh crore allocated during previous year’s budget, implying a modest increase of approximately 13.8% over the last year.
Railway Budget 2018: In the Union Budget 2018-19, Railways witnessed a modest increase in allocation compared to previous year’s allocation in the sector. Rs 1.48 lakh crore is allocated this year compared to 1.3 lakh crore allocated during previous year’s budget, implying a modest increase of approximately 13.8% over the last year. However, it is to be seen how the government plans to mobilize financial resources for the planned expenditure, particularly mobilizing private sector investments. No hike in passenger fare was announced in during the speech by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as expected, however, focus was on the capacity addition and service improvements. Doubling, gauge conversions and electrification works will be further speeded up. Escalators will be planned for every station with more than 25,000 footfall and all railway stations and trains will be provided WiFi and CCTVs progressively.
To improve quality of travel and services, the government plans to create world-class modern train sets including Train 18 and Train 20 which is planned to be manufactured at Integral Coach Factory at Chennai. The first of these modern train sets will be rolled out in the 2018-19. Besides, redevelopment of 600 major railway stations has been taken up which will improve passenger amenities at railways stations and turn these stations into world-class facilities.
In the speech, the Finance Minister also focused on safety, maintenance of railway tracks, and increase in use of technology and fog safety devices. Foundation stone of the bullet train was laid in September 2017. In the speech, the Finance Minister announced setting up of an institute to train the manpower required for the high-speed railway projects.
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Further, plans to set up a dedicated Railway University in Vadodara was announced which reiterates the government’s intention to build skills and capacity within the sector. In order to increase the reach of local network in metro cities and provide citizens with easy access to transport system, the government plans to expand Mumbai transport system and suburban network in Bengaluru.
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Overall, the budget for railways appears as if the government is considering holistic development of the sector and not just undertaking any populist measures.
(By Abhaya Agarwal, Partner & PPP Leader, EY India. Views expressed are his personal)