New Delhi: The Interim Budget is set to be presented on Friday and so is the Rail Budget, as it is no longer presented separately. In 2016, the Narendra Modi-led government approved the merger of both the budgets.
According to a leading Hindi daily, the budgetary allocation for Railways this year could be anything between Rs 70,000 and Rs 75,000 crore. This is significantly more than the Rs 55,000 crore that the Railways was allotted the last time.
As far as the Rail budget is concerned, the focus this time is on measures of modernisation and safety, said reports. Reports also suggest that the financial health of Railways isn’t too good; it’s Operating Ratio is 118 which means that instead of earning, on every Rs 100, the Railways ends up spending Rs 18 more.
While new trains may not find a mention in this Budget, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal is likely to announce some semi-high speed trains apart from raising the speed of the existing ones.
Currently, Railways is anyway working on Train 18 and Train 20. A plan for running the former from more stations could be in the offing. This train would now be called Vande Mataram Express.
Meanwhile, there could be some funds earmarked for both the Rae Bareli and Chennai Coach Factories.
Sources also said that the Rail Budget will focus on making it a safer mode of transport so announcements are likely for measures like Train Protection Warning System, GPS-enabled train track system and Track Maintenance with Advanced Machinery.
Reports also suggest that a modern signal system could get Rs 12,000 crore.
Better amenities for passengers could also find mention in the budget. This includes escalators, lifts, WiFi, and Divyang-friendly stations and upgrading select few to international standards.
Sources also says that increased budgetary allocation (that the rail ministry had earlier sought) will be used to upgrade the coaches in Railways with schemes like Swarn Mission. High speed corridors work will be expedited with the increased Budgetary Allocation, sources added.
Being an Interim Budget, every detail of the allocation for the Railways may not be spelt out, but focus would remain on making rail transport safer, faster and better.