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Tuesday 28 January 2020

Railways: Passenger amenities focus, revenue expenditure concern

Sitharaman said that the government envisions using rivers for cargo transportation, which will also decongest roads and railways

New Delhi: Railways has got a budgetary allocation of Rs 65,837 crore and the highest ever outlay for capital expenditure amounting to Rs 1.60 lakh crore from Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget.

Last year, the outlay for the railways was Rs 1.48 lakh crore while the Budget allocation was Rs 55,088 crore.

Developing passenger amenities seem to be the focus of the government with the planned expenditure on that count being allocated Rs 3,422.57 crore which is an additional outlay of around Rs 1,000 crore for the comfort of rail users.

However, what will remain the Railways’ major headache would be its revenue expenditure which includes an estimated salary payout of Rs 86,554.31 crore, about Rs 14,000 crore more than last year.

In the Budget, funds of Rs 7,255 crore have been allocated for construction of new lines, Rs 2,200 crore for gauge conversion, Rs 700 crore for doubling, Rs 6,114.82 crore for rolling stock and Rs 1,750 crore for signalling and telecom – the allocations have remained the same as in the interim budget in February presented by the then Finance Minister Piyush Goyal.

Sitharaman said that railway infrastructure would need an investment of Rs 50 lakh crores between 2018 and 2030 and proposed that a public-private partnership (PPP) be used to unleash faster development and delivery of passenger freight services for railway projects to boost the connectivity.

“Railways will be encouraged to invest in suburban railways through special purpose vehicles (SPVs) and enhance metro rail network through PPPs,” she said.

The government envisions using rivers for cargo transportation, which will also decongest roads and railways, Sitharaman said.

Railway stations modernisation will also be launched this year, she added.

The Budget estimates also allocated Rs 267.64 cr for Nirbhaya Fund including the provision of Rs 250 crore for Integrated Emergency Response Management System (IERM) (Video Surveillance System) and Rs 17.64 cr for Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd.

Estimates under Gross Traffic Receipts for the year 2019-20 have been placed at Rs 2,16,675 crore involving an increase of Rs 19,961 crore over the Revised Estimates 2018-19.

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