Railway Budget 2019: Boost in CapEx for improving infrastructure of Indian Railways

The Railway Budget for 2019 witnessed a boost in capital allocation for Indian Railways by 20% in comparison to the last year, it is Rs 1,60,176 crore for 2019-20. According to Nirmala Sitharaman, the development and further improvement of the Indian Railways would require an investment of 50 lakh crore between 2018-2030. Along with increased capital allocation, Finance Minister has also stressed on Private Public Partnership (PPP) to accelerate the development and completion of rail tracks, rolling stock production and delivery of passenger freight services in her Union Budget speech 2019. The key points of the Railway Budget 2019 focused on making railway commuting a pleasant and satisfying experience for the passengers, and increase connectivity and mobility. The key points of the Railway Budget 2019 included;

  • Indian Railways set to invest more in suburban railway systems through Special Purpose Vehicle structures like RRTS (Rapid Regional Transport System) proposed on the Delhi-Meerut route, which is a semi-high speed rail corridor connecting Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut. 
  • After the achievement of complete elimination of unmanned level crossings on Broad Gauge network in 2018-19, the national transporter is aiming to eliminate all 2,568 manned level crossings, present on the Golden quadrilateral and diagonal routes in mission mode by building ROBs/RUBs.
  • In 2019-20, 7000 route kilometres cover stretch is the target set to achieve electrification under Indian Railways’ broad gauge; and it is estimated that the complete electrification will be done by 2021-22. Also, the target of new lines, doubling/tripling, gauge conversion, etc. is 3750 kilometres as against 3596 km in the last financial year. 
  • To enhance safety, increase additional capacity and train efficiency, the mentioned about introducing an Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system using a mix of European Train Control System as well as an indigenously developed system.
  • Indian Railways has launched a massive programme for modernization of railway stations, which would include the introduction of fully indigenous semi- high- speed train 18 under ‘Make in India’.
  • Free Wifi at all railway stations, except the halt stations is provided by Indian Railways, so as to improve the rail commute experience. This would ensure that the digital gap between rural and urban India would be bridged. The facility has already reached 1,603 stations and the remaining 4,882 stations are targeted for the provision by 31 August 2019.
  • Apart from connecting the stations digitally, the security provisions have also been revamped to enhance the safety of passengers. CCTV cameras in coaches and all the railway stations, except the halt stations, will be installed. Out of this, CCTV cameras have already been installed at 445 stations and the rest would be installed by 2020-21, whereas 1,203 coaches have received the installation and the rest of the passenger-carrying coaches are targeted by 2021-22.    
  • A scheme would be launched; focusing on Integrated Skill Development under which 13 lakh railway employees will receive foundational training. The agenda of the scheme is to focus on 3C’s – Customer, Cost, and Work Culture, under which Advanced Program would be offered to employees who demonstrate high learning agility, as well as greater skill mastery. 

Updating on the progress and plans for the already ongoing projects, the budget mentions that the two Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) will be completed by 2021 in phases. The Rewari-Palanpur section on Western DFC and the Khurja-Bhaupur section on Eastern DFC are targeted for completion this year. Nirmala Sitharaman also claimed that the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project and is expected to be completed by 2023.

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