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Friday, February 26, 2021

Record Rs 1.1 lakh crore outlay for Indian Railways amid earnings shortfall

“I am providing a record sum of Rs 1,10,055 crores, for Railways of which Rs 1,07,100 crores is for capital expenditure,” Sitharaman said in her budget speech in the Lok Sabha.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi |
Updated: February 1, 2021 2:45:17 pm
Yogendra Yadav, Indian Railways, Tikri border, Punjab Mail (Ferozepur-Mumbai), agri laws, Rohtak (in Haryana) to Rewari, Samyukta Kisan Morcha, farmers protest, india news, indian expressRailways authorities Monday diverted the Punjab Mail (Ferozepur-Mumbai) and short-terminated another that plies between Ganganagar in Rajasthan and Old Delhi. (Express Photo)

With a “record allocation” of Rs 1.1 lakh crore from the Budget, Indian Railways has planned a capital spend of Rs 2.15 lakh crore in the next fiscal, laying the track for major public spending in the country’s rail sector. The Budget also sounded out the plan to monetise the assets of the Dedicated Freight Corridors to be commissioned within the next year.

Of the total allocation, Rs 1.07 lakh crore is towards capital expenditure. This is around Rs 30,000 crore higher than the last Budget when the total allocation from the general exchequer to the ministry was Rs 72,216 crore in the budgetary estimates of 2020-21. This fiscal, it has projected to spend on capital works worth around Rs 1.61 lakh crore, as was budgeted.

“I am providing a record sum of Rs 1,10,055 crores, for Railways of which Rs 1,07,100 crores is for capital expenditure,” Sitharaman said in her budget speech in the Lok Sabha.

The highest-ever capex budget planned for next fiscal will also see the Extra Budgetary Resources component jump by around 20 per cent, sources said.

“Railways will monetise Dedicated Freight Corridor assets for operations and maintenance, after commissioning,” Sitharaman said.

Railways has also projected total revenues of around Rs 2.17 lakh crore in the next fiscal, down by around Rs 8,000 crore from the budgetary estimates of this fiscal. The actual earnings for this fiscal, when passenger services were stopped for months due to the pandemic, is being pegged at around Rs 1.5 lakh crore, sources said.

In the passenger segment, railways has suffered a shortfall of over Rs 40,000 crore. However, in the next fiscal, the national transporter is expecting its passenger business to bounce back to pre-covid levels to earn over Rs 60,000 crore, sources said.

Sitharaman in her speech reiterated already announced plans for more freight corridors.

The Sonnagar–Gomoh Section (263.7 km) of Eastern DFC will be taken up in PPP mode in 2021-22. The Gomoh-Dankuni section of 274.3 km will also be taken up in short succession, she said. “We will undertake future dedicated freight corridor projects namely East Coast corridor from Kharagpur to Vijayawada, East-West Corridor from Bhusaval to Kharagpur to Dankuni and North-South corridor from Itarsi to Vijayawada. Detailed Project Reports will be undertaken in the first phase,” she said.

Among passenger-related announcements, the Budget mentioned more Vistadome coaches on tourism routes. Vistadome coaches are seating-only cars with transparent ceilings. The budget, however, did not have any new announcements in terms of schemes and passenger amenities.

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