Mumbai, February 1: In a bid to strengthen Railway connectivity in the country, Union Finance Arun Jaitley in his budget speech announced a capital expenditure allocation of Rs 1.48 crore, which is the highest ever. The 92-year-old practice of a separate Railway budget was discontinued last year and since then has been merged with the Union Budget. While presenting the Budget in the Parliament, Jaitley said that Railways’ Capex for the year 2018-19 has been pegged at Rs 1,48,528 crore out of which a large part of this will be devoted to capacity creation.
Jaitley said 18,000 kilometers of doubling, third and fourth line works and 5000 kilometers of gauge conversion would augment capacity and transform almost the entire network into Broad Gauge. He added saying 4000 kilometers of the railway network is to be commissioned for electrification during 2017-18. A major programme has been initiated to strengthen infrastructure at the Goods sheds and fast track commissioning of private sidings.
Here are the key takeaways from Budget 2018:
- Jaitley announced that 12000 wagons, 5160 coaches and approximately 700 locomotives are being procured during 2018-19. In Bengaluru, a suburban network of approximately 160 kilometres at an estimated cost of Rs 17,000 crore is being planned to cater to the growth of the metropolis.
- Special emphasis will be renovating 3,600-km of railway tracks which would prevent derailment incidents, Jaitley announced, further adding that a total of 600 Railway stations will be developed across the nation.
- Jaitley assured adequate funds will be available under Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh. Over 3600 kms of track renewal is targeted during 2018-19. There will be increasing use of technology like ‘‘Fog Safe’’ and ‘‘Train Protection and Warning System’’. 4267 unmanned level crossings in the broad-gauge network will be eliminated in the next two years.
- The Finance Minister informed that 90 kilometres of double line tracks are being added to Mumbai’s transport system at a cost of over Rs 11,000 crore. 150 kilometres of an additional suburban network is being planned at a cost of over Rs 40,000 crore, including elevated corridors on some sections.
- Foundation for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, India’s first high-speed rail project was laid on September 14, 2017. An Institute is coming up at Vadodara to train manpower required for high-speed rail projects.
- The Finance Minister said all stations with more than 25000 footfalls will have escalators. railway stations and trains will be progressively provided with wi-fi. CCTVs will be provided at all stations and on trains to enhance the security of passengers.
- Jaitley also said that 4,000-plus unmanned crossings will be eliminated and that “Modern train-sets with state-of-art amenities are being designed”. Talking about the Modi government’s pet bullet train project, Jaitley said that an “Institute is coming up Vadodara to train people for the project”. However, he failed to mention that much of the work on the bullet train projects will be done by the Japanese, not Indians.
Jaitley informed that modern train-sets with the state-of-the-art amenities and features are being designed at Integrated Coach Factory, Perambur. He said first such train-set will be commissioned during 2018-19 and redevelopment of 600 major railway stations is being taken up by Indian Railway Station Development Co. Ltd.