In a bid to put the flagging revenues of the national transporter back on track, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday announced a capital expenditure allocation of Rs 1.48 crore for the railways, the highest ever. However, as per expected lines, no major new trains were announced and the focus was more on modernisation and passenger safety. The 92-year-old practice of a separate Railway budget was discontinued last year and was merged with the Union Budget.
The Finance Minister said redevelopment of 600 major railway stations had been taken up. All railways stations with more than 25,000 footfall would have escalators and CCTVs and Wi-Fi facilities would also be set up. Moreover, a specialised railway university will come up at Vadodara, which will serve as the training centre for manpower required for high-speed railway projects.
Railway Budget 2018 Live Updates:
12.30 pm: Confusion in Railway ministry as Budget speech pegs capex at Rs 1.48 lakh crore, while the railways was given to understand it was Rs 1.46 lakh crore. Officials looking into it.
12.08 pm: Rs 4,253 crore has been allocated for Pune-Lonavala 3rd and 4th railway line.
12.05 pm: Focus will be on safety, maintenance of railway tracks, increase in use of technology and fog safety devices, says Jaitley.
12.04 pm: Mumbai transport system is being expanded; suburban network of 160 km planned for Bengaluru.
12.03 pm: Foundation stone of the bullet train was laid in September 2017. An institute is coming up in Vadodara to train the manpower required for the high speed railway projects, says FM Jaitley.
12.02 pm: For Indian Railways, the government allocates capital expenditure of Rs 1,48,528 crore for 2018-19, announces Jaitley, the highest ever.
12.01 pm: Optimal electrification of the railway network to be focus of the government.
11.59 am: 12,000 wagons, 5160 coaches and 700 locomotives are being procured. There is significant achievements of physical targets by Railways, says Arun Jaitley.
11.58 am: Redevelopment of 600 major railway stations has been taken up. All railways stations with more than 25,000 footfall to have escalators. All railways stations and trains to have Wi-Fi and CCTVs progressively
11.56 am: Enhancing carrying capacity of railways and focus on safety will be priority of the government
11.30 am: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says the government would set up a specialised railway university in Vadodara.
11.15 am: A government report tabled in Lok Sabha last month said that more than 35 train accidents were reported last year. The report said 29 rail accidents occurred in the first six months killing 58 people.
10.01 am: Wondering how to watch the Budget this morning? Here’s where you can watch it live, from 11 am onwards — live streaming online of Arun Jaitley’s speech.
ALSO READ: Budget 2018 LIVE updates
Unlike the last Budget, the Railways will allocate resources on broad categories while detailed projects will be fitted into them later. The Railways is expected to end this fiscal with an operating ratio of 95 per cent and project a 93 per cent operating ratio for 2018-19, sources said (operating ratio is the measure of money spent to earn every Rs 100; the lower the better).
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal is learnt to have fixed a target of around 20 per cent reduction in the transporter’s working expenses in 2018-19 to achieve better financial health by the end of the next fiscal.
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