Budget 2021

Post merger, record plan outlay of Rs. 1.31 lakh crore for railways

A view of the Borivali station in Mumbai on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The first Union Budget comprising allocations to and various proposals for the railways in the wake of the merger of the Railway Budget with the General Budget laid emphasis on improving rail safety, pushing digital transactions, listing rail public sector units on stock markets and setting fares competing with other modes of transportation.

A rail safety fund, named ‘Rail Sanraksha Kosh’, with a corpus of Rs. 1 lakh crore, is proposed to be set up over a period of five years, Mr. Jaitley announced. All unmanned railway crossings on the broad gauge lines would be eliminated by 2020, he said.

The Finance Minister also announced the waiver of service charge on e-tickets booked through Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). Earlier, the IRCTC used to levy a service charge of Rs 20 on sleeper class and Rs 40 on AC class e-tickets.

The service charge waiver may hit the Indian Railways’ revenues by Rs 2 crore a day, according to senior Railway Ministry officials. However, the IRCTC will be able to raise money from the market as a plan to list the railway PSU on stock markets was announced by Mr. Jaitley. Along with the IRCTC, the Indian Railway Finance Corporation and Ircon will also be listed on stock markets.

Railway tariff would be fixed based on social obligation cost and competitiveness with other transport mode, Mr. Jaitley said. “Tariffs of Railways would be fixed, taking into consideration costs, quality of service and competition from other forms of transport.”

A record plan outlay of Rs. 1.31 lakh crore for the Indian Railways in 2017-18 was announced against Rs. 1.21 lakh crore planned for 2016-17. The Finance Ministry will provide a gross budgetary support of Rs. 55,000 crore to the Railways in 2017-18.

For the first time after the merger of the Budgets, Railways will not be required to pay annual dividend of around Rs 9,000 crore to the Finance Ministry beginning 2017-18.

Railway lines of 3,500 km would be commissioned and at least 25 stations are expected to be awarded for station redevelopment in 2017-18.

A single window interface, named ‘Coach Mitra’, would be set up to register all coach related complaints and requirements. All coaches will have bio-toilets by 2019 and plants for environment-friendly disposal of solid wastes would be be set up in the Jaipur and New Delhi railway stations.

Five hundred railway stations would be made differently-abled friendly by providing lifts and escalators. The Union government would frame a new Metro Rail Policy with focus on “innovative models of implementation and financing, as well as standardisation and indigenisation of hardware and software.”

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 4:20:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/budget/Post-merger-record-plan-outlay-of-Rs.-1.31-lakh-crore-for-railways/article17127436.ece

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