Railway Budget 2019: A capital expenditure programme of Rs 1,58,658 crore for Indian Railways has been announced by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal today in the Railway Budget 2019 speech. Interestingly, this is the highest ever allocation for the national transporter. In his debut Railway Budget 2019 speech, which is now a part of Union Budget 2019, Goyal announced that the Operating Ratio of Indian Railways for the current fiscal has been revised to 96.2 per cent. He further stated that in the next financial year the aim of the national transporter will be to have it at 95 per cent. Since, the Operating Ratio is a measure of the financial health of Indian Railways, the improvement in Operating Ratio is big welcome news.
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In the financial year 2017-2018, the Operating Ratio registered by Indian Railways was that of 98.4 per cent. The term ‘Operating Ratio’ indicates the operating expenses divided by its operating revenues. It helps to check the performance of the institution. Similarly, in Indian Railways, it refers to the sum which the transporter spends in order to earn one rupee.
Meanwhile, Goyal in his Railway Budget 2019 speech also announced that the financial year 2018-2019 has been the safest year experienced by Indian Railways and further added that all unmanned level crossings on the broad gauge network across the country have been eliminated successfully. Last year, then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced an amount of Rs 1.48 lakh crore for the railway sector in his budget.
The Railway Budget and the Union Budget, which were earlier presented separately has been merged into one from the year 2017-2018 onwards. The merging decision of both, the Railway Budget along with the General Budget was done on the recommendations of the committee headed by Member of NITI Aayog, Bibek Debroy. A separate paper on ‘Dispensing with the Railway Budget’ by him along with Kishore Desai was another reason to implement the merging decision.