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Budget 2018 : Capacity and Performance improvement key focus in Railways

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has presented the Union Budget 2018 in the parliament. Last year the FM ended the traditional practice and had merged the railway budget with the Union Budget. This year too, the railways budget was part of the Union Budget.

No major new trains were announced in this year’s Budget. However, the focus was mainly on capacity improvement and passenger safety measures. The highest ever capital expenditure allocation of Rs 1,48,528 crores was announced by the Finance Minister.

A major chunk of this huge capital expenditure is focused on capacity development. 4000 kilometres of the electrified railway network is slated for commissioning during 2017-18.

600 major Railway Stations will be redeveloped in the fiscal year. The stations that have a footfall of 25,000  will have escalators. All stations are to have CCTV and Wi-Fi progressively. In another major announcement, a specialised Railway University will be set up in Vadodara.

The FM announced that 12,000 wagons, 5160 coaches and 700 locomotives are being procured. He also stated that the Railways Ministry will focus on the safety of the passengers and invest more in the maintenance of Railway tracks. Improvements in the use of technology and fog safety devices are also being focused on.

He has also announced a target of doubling 18,000 km of lines. The FM added that gauge conversion is underway to eliminate capacity constraints. 36,000 km of Railway Track renewal has been targetted and also 4267 unmanned Railway crossings on the broad gauge routes are to be eliminated by next year.

According to Mr Jaitley’s statement, Mumbai‟s local train network will have 90 kilometres of double line tracks at a cost of over Rs.11,000 crore. 150 kilometres of an additional suburban network is also being planned at a cost
of over Rs.40,000 crore, including elevated corridors on some sections. The City of Bangalore is set to have a suburban train network of approximately 160 kilometres at an estimated cost of Rs.17,000 crore.

Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal has congratulated the Prime Minister and Finance Minister for the Development oriented budget.

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