Budget 2018 Puts Indian Railways On The Right Track
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday presented his second Budget Speech after the Railways Budget was combined with the Union Budget in 2016. Terming infrastructure as a 'growth driver of the economy', the FM declared, “we have made an all-time high allocation to rail and road sectors.” The Indian Railways in Budget 2018 has been allocated a capital expenditure, the largest-ever, of Rs 1,48,528 crore. It will also receive a budgetary support of Rs 53,060 crore from the government.
The Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said the national transporter would focus on technology this year to ensure safety on its network. Emphasising on leveraging technology and private sector involvement, he added, “thrust will be on improving the signalling system through ETCS II”.
MakaanIQ simplifies the Railways Budget segment presented under Budget 2018:
"A 'Safety First' policy, with the allocation of adequate funds under the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh is the cornerstone of Railways' focus on safety," Jaitley said. He asserted government's focus towards the maintenance of track infrastructure with over 3,600 kilometres of track renewal targeted in the current fiscal for which Rs 11,450 crore has been earmarked.
“The total expenditure planned on safety, including the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK), is Rs 73,065 crore in 2018-19. It was Rs 68,725 crore in 2017-18,” Goyal said.
Besides, steps will be taken for increasing use of technology such as Fog Safe and Train Protection and Warning System. It was also decided to remove 4,267 unmanned level crossings in the broad-gauge network in the next two years. To enhance the security of passengers, CCTV facilities will be provided at all stations.
A total of 600 major railway stations in the country will get a facelift and the task will be undertaken by the Indian Railway Station Development. Stations that have a footfall of over 25,000 will have escalators. Wi-Fi connections will be provided for all the railway stations and trains. Modern train-sets having state-of-the-art amenities and features are being designed at Integrated Coach Factory, Perambur. The first such model will be commissioned during 2018-19.
Alstom, a France-based company, is producing country's first 12,000 horsepower electric locomotive at its plant in Madhepura, Bihar, to be launched in March.
*The suburban transport network in Bengaluru and Mumbai has a special mention in this year's Budget. Double line tracks of 90 kilometre's length worth over Rs 11,000 crore will be added in Mumbai. Furthermore, development of an additional suburban network, with some elevated sections, spanning 150 kilometre will happen in future at a cost of over Rs 40,000 crore.
*The suburban rail network in Bengaluru is also being planned at an estimated cost of Rs 17,000 crore which will run along a stretch of 160 kilometre.
*Proudly mentioning about the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, the finance minister announced setting up of a training institute at Vadodara for high-speed rail projects.
The statement by the FM “There has also been significant improvement in the achievement of physical targets by Railways as well” was quite reassuring. He also pointed out the following:
*The government will aim at optimal electrification of the railways network with 4,000 kilometre targeted for commissioning during 2017-18.
*There is a steady progress of development of the Eastern and Western-Dedicated Freight Corridors.
*An adequate number of rolling stock – 12,000 wagons, 5,160 coaches and approximately 700 locomotives will be procured during 2018-19.
*To strengthen infrastructure at the goods sheds and fast track commissioning of private sidings, a special programme will be launched.
*Carrying capacity of railways will be enhanced.
*Fund allocation of Rs 2,025 crore for an overhaul of the signalling and telecommunication system of the Indian Railways in 2018-2019 will be done.
After the launch of ETCS II, a radio-based signalling system, will reduce the frequency of trains to two minutes from three to four minutes at present.
*The RRSK will have Rs 5,000 crore from Capital (Budgetary Support), Rs 10,000 crore from the Railway Safety Fund and Rs 5,000 crore from the Railways' revenue.