One of the most vital aspects of Budget 2017-2018 was that the Railway Budget was merged with Independent India’s General Budget. This was the first time in history of Independent India that Railway Budget was merged with general budget for the nation. This killed the 92-year old practice of creating a separate railway budget.
Many anticipation came in before the announcement of the budget. However, to everyone’s surprise, the Finance Minister gave a completely different budget for the railways, which was not expected by anyone. The only two things that were included from the anticipations were creation of a safety funds for railways and announcement of a new policy for the metro railways.
The Rail Budget: 2017
Here are the highlights of the rail budget, which has now become a part of the general Union Budget:
- There was 22% hike in the budget for railways compared to previous budgets which were announced separately.
- End-to-end transport solutions will now be integrated into the railways in order to provide seamless transport. However, these solutions will be available only and only for a handful of commodities that the government selects. However, Indian Railways will have to partner with logistics players of the country.
- By 2020, the government will be railway level crossings which are unmanned.
- Bio-toilets will be installed in every train coach by end of year 2019.
- In 2017-2018, a minimum of 25 stations will be identified, which will be awarded by the government.
- A new policy for the metro railways will be formulated, which will be designed in a way that new employment opportunities show up for the youth of the nation.
- Government will soon be launching trains which will be dedicated for tourism and pilgrimage.
- Government will identify and rework on at least 500 train stations in India so that they become friendly for people who are differently abled. Those train stations will have facilities of escalators and lifts.
- Government will waive off service tax for all tickets that are booked online through IRCTC portal.
- Over the coming 5 years, the government will create a pool of INR 100,000 crores, which will be kept as Rail Safety Fund.
- Facility of ticket booking will now become competitive for Indian Railways.
- “Clean-My-Coach” service has been introduced, which is an SMS-enabled service that any passenger can avail.
- For complaints related to coaches, a facility called Coach Mitra will be introduced soon.
- Total budget allocated for Railways is 1 lakh and 31 thousand crores.
Railway Safety Fund (Rakhsha Kosh)
In case you didn’t know, government has been working on upgrading safety options for trains which run on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah routes at a speed of 200 kilometers per hour. Apart from that, because of a series of derailment in the recent times, the government has also decided to create a safety fund amounting to INR 1 lakh crores, of which, INR 20,000 will be injected in FY 2017-2018. The entire pool will be created in next 5 years.