Railway Budget: Cheering up the common man

Source: INC42

CHENNAI, February 4: Finance Minister, as well as the Railway and Coal Minister, Piyush Goyal presented the Interim Budget 2019 on February 1. Like last two years, there was no separate Railway Budget. In the Budget speech, Goyal announced the highest-ever capital expenditure allocation of Rs 1.58 lakh crore for the Indian Railways, up from Rs 1.31 lakh crore in the previous year.

According to an Economic Times article, Piyush Goyal, Railway and Coal Minister said that this has been the safest year for Indian Railways, as the ministry has worked to remove all unmanned level crossings on the broad gauge network. The last unmanned level crossing was removed on January 31, 2019. Along with it, great strides have been made in order to make the railway experience for travellers more comfortable.

The Vande Bharat Express has already made its mark in India, being a product of the Make in India initiative. FM Goyal said that the operation ratio of the current fiscal year has in fact improved to 96.2 per cent; next year, they will aim to have it at 95 per cent.

Although, one major thing that has cheered up the common man is that the Railway Budget has left passenger fares and freight rates unchanged ahead of general elections this year.

Last year, Jaitley has allocated Rs 1.48 lakh crore for various railway infrastructure projects. This year, a major leap in wholly developed technology by the engineers is giving an impetus to the Make in India programme, and create job opportunities in the department. Funds of Rs 7,255 crore have been allocated for construction of new lines, Rs 2,200 crore for gauge conversion, Rs 700 crore for doubling, Rs 6,114 crore for rolling stock and Rs 1,750 crore for signalling and telecom, reported Times Now.

Contending to the budget, Western Railway tweeted:

During his speech, the Piyush Goyal spoke of 10 important dimensions that will help the Indian government to achieve Vision 2030. In the Budget, FM Goyal also pointed out certain aspects that will be developed for the betterment of the citizens, reported a Times Travel article. SMART coaches will be made to make use of Artificial Intelligence that would help to keep track of coaches’ health as well as detect any faults. This year, the authorities are planning a redevelopment of railway stations which will have airport-like facilities.

The capital support from the Budget for railways is proposed at Rs 64,587 crore in 2019-20 (BE). The Railways’ overall capital expenditure programme is of Rs 1,58,658 crore. The Operating Ratio is expected to improve from 98.4% in 2017-18 to 96.2% in 2018-19 (RE) and further to 95% in 2019-20 (BE).  Finance Minister Goyal also announced that the operating ratio for the current fiscal has improved to 96.2 per cent and that Railways is aiming to lower it to 95 per cent, stated a Financial Express article.

While the common man seems to be happy with the interim railway budget, politicians still seem to feel that the budget has not done any justice, and still has a large scope for improvement.

 

Discussing the Interim Railway Budget in the podcast below;

 

 

Complied by: MANJIRI CHITRE & DIVYA SETHU