This year, railway budget will be presented on July 5th in the parliament by the Indian Finance Minister alongside the Union Budget 2019. The NDA Government will be laying out the budget allocations for the railway sectors in its annual statement.
The Railway Budget has been merged with the Union Budget and is a step away from India’s tradition of presenting the railway budget separately from the financial budget. NITI Aayog in a report by Business Standard said that the cost of railway budget has shrunken over time compared to the overall budget, so a separate announced was a tradition that could be done away with. It was also said that the railway budget is used as a political tool with decisions on new trains, routes, and fare hikes.
In the interim budget for 2019, the railway sector saw an allocation sum of Rs 64,587 crore with a capital expenditure of Rs 1.58 lakh crore. — the highest ever allocation for the national carrier, surpassing last year’s allocation by around ten thousand crores.
Over Rs 7,255 crore was allocated for construction of new lines, 2,200 crores for gauge conversion, Rs 700 crore for track doubling, Rs 6,114.82 crore for rolling stock and Rs 1,750 crore for signaling and telecom.
The Economic Survey 2019 which was released today in the parliament by the Finance Minister revealed that the Government had performed better in regards to passenger safety. The survey revealed that no train collisions have occurred and the number of derailments incidents have reduced significantly. It also highlighted the railway ministry’s achievement of eliminating unmanned level crossings from the railways’ network.
According to the details shared in the economic survey, the incidents caused by collisions decreased from 3 in 207-18 to zero in the following year, while derailments incidents during the same time period reduced from 5 to 46. The number of fire accidents, however, has been on a rise. During the same term, there has been a total of six fire incidents, three more than the last period, which calls for a certain approach to safety in the
The Government, with the help of the Make in India initiative, and its effort to privatize the railway sector, could allocate funds for upgrading the technological infrastructure of the Indian Railways.
For the upcoming budget, the railways should see more attention improving the safety measures so that the accidents, such as fire accidents, that have seen an increase during the past year could see a significant downfall — from three to zero. It could also look at further reducing the number of accidents caused by unmanned railway crossings.
Some of the key developments that the Indian Railways could look at it he upcoming financial budget would be the monetization of the land and redeveloping its stations to equip them with the newer technologies and facilities, such as quickening up the process of allocation of tickets in crowded stations.
Indian Railways will have 7,650 coaches and 13,700 wagons for the current fiscal year, for which an amount of over Rs 6,114 crores have been allocated.
The railway business, over the years, is losing its fleet of passengers and freight, but compared to air transport, it is still the cheapest mode of transport. Working on pre-existing facilities is an area where the Government could look into, against increasing the fare, which could turn out to be a blow against the highly competitive air prices when it comes to the costlier air conditioned tickets.
The earnings of the railways have been lagging and operational expenses are seen to be climbing up, so the Government could look at innovative measures in the goods and passenger segments to retain more travelers and customers.
Besides passenger safety and upgrading the railway stations to monetize them, the new railway budget should address the need of hygiene in the railway infrastructure, improvising on the quality of the food that is served in the trains, and making sure that the toilets are upgraded and are cleaned regularly.
Indian Railways is the backbone of Indian transport, and an upgrade to it would act as a boost to the larger economic structure, the components of which are run on these rails, and which indeed seems to be the need of this hour.
For latest news on the Union Budget, you can read about the budget updates that will drive change for the Indian economy. How will the union budget impact various sectors of our economy?
You can also go through the budget key points that will be taken up by the Finance Minister.