Railway Budget 2018: FM Arun Jaitley in his Union Budget 2018 speech said that developing infrastructure – including railways – would continue to a priority for the Modi government. From world-class train sets to bullet trains and revamp of signalling systems and providing CCTVs and Wifs – FM Jaitley’s portion of Union Budget speech dedicate to Railway Budget helped several promises that aim at transforming Indian Railways. Last year, for the first time in Independent India, finance minister Arun Jaitley presented the combined Fiscal Budget 2017-18 in the parliament as the 92 year old custom of presenting separate railway budget and general budget was removed. Suresh Prabhu, the former Railway minister before Piyush Goyal, became the last railway minister under the Modi regime to announce the Railway budget separately. Indian Railways which is the national mode of transport is a massive sector in terms of economy and employment. Every year an impressive amount is provided by the government for the development of Railways and to improve Rail network across India.
So, finally here are the main points that the budget for Railways 2018 focused on:
- Rs 1.48 lakh crore has been allocated for Indian Railways. Most of this capex will be dedicated to capacity creation.
- 12,000 wagons, 5160 coaches and 700 locomotives are on the way. A major programme has also been initiated by the government to strengthen infrastructure at the Goods sheds and fast track commissioning of private sidings.
- Optimal electrification of railway network is a priority. Along with that the government is focused on Physical targets of Indian Railways and has targeted 4,000 km of commissioning during 2017-18.
- Work on dedicated East and West freight corridors are in progress.
- Government plans to create world-class modern train sets including Train 18 and Train 20. Train 18 and Train 20 will be manufactured at Integral Coach factory, Chennai, announced in Union Budget 2018.
- Government plans to eliminate 4,267 unmanned railway crossing in next two years.
- For Passenger security, Wifi, CCTVs in all stations and trains will be introduced.
- Modern train sets with state-of-the-art amenities are being designed at Integrated Coach Factory in Perambur and first such train-set will be commissioned during 2018-19.
- For Mumbai local trains, an amount of Rs 11,000 crore has been allocated to add 90 kilometers of double line tracks.
- 18,000 km of doubling, third and fourth line works and gauge conversion of 5,000 km would be done in order to eliminate capacity constraints. In addition to that, complete conversion of entire network into Broad Gauge to take place.
- Under Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh, a ‘Safety First’ policy is a key for the government to optimise passenger safety.
- Track infrastructure is necessary and for that the government has targeted over 3,600 km for track renewal.
- Other technology based measures will be taken by the government like ‘‘Fog Safe’’ and ‘‘Train Protection and Warning System’’.
- 600 major stations to be redeveloped by Indian Railway Station Development and escalators will be introduced to railway stations with more than 25000 footfalls.
- In addition, 150 kilometers of suburban network is being planned at a cost of over Rs 40,000 crore, which will include elevated corridors on some sections.
- A 160 kilometers (approx) suburban network at an estimated cost of Rs 17,000 crore is provided for the growth of the Bengaluru metropolis.
- An institute to train manpower for high speed rail projects will be set up in Vadodara, as the foundation stone of Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, India’s first high speed rail project was laid last year.
Watch: Railway Budget 2018: 10 things to make passengers happy
Biggest joy for the national mode of transport of not having a separate railway budget is that it saves itself from paying an additional amount of around Rs 10,000 crore, to the Indian government which earlier it used to pay as an annual dividend for gross budgetary support. In addition to that capital charge is also wiped off which used to increase the capital expenditure of Indian Railways. Another major aspect is that with the merging, the size of the annual budget is increased overall, which benefits the nation’s economy. With the merging of the budgets, the parliament also saves time by considering one single Appropriation Bill.