Budget promises increased investment for passenger amenities and safety-related works, including track renewals
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday proposed a budgetary allocation of ₹70,000 crore for the Indian Railways, with overall capital expenditure of ₹1.61 lakh crore for the next financial year in the Union Budget.
While the capital expenditure for 2020-21 saw an increase of a mere 3% from ₹1.56 lakh crore (revised estimates) for 2019-20, the Budget promises increased investment for passenger amenities and safety-related works, including track renewals, level crossings and road over/under bridges.
The ₹1.61 lakh crore outlay comprises ₹70,000 crore from budgetary support, ₹250 crore from the Nirbhaya Fund, ₹7,500 crore from Internal Resources and ₹83,292 crore from Extra Budgetary Resources.
An amount of ₹12,000 crore has been allocated for construction of new lines, ₹10,599 crore for track renewal, ₹2,250 crore for gauge conversion, ₹700 crore for doubling, ₹5,786.97 crore for rolling stock and ₹1,650 crore for signalling and telecom. For passenger amenities, the allocation is ₹2,725.63 crore.
The government expects its revenue receipts to increase by ₹23,880 crore to ₹2.25 lakh crore. In the next fiscal, the Indian Railways expects earnings from passengers to grow to ₹61,000 crore from ₹56,000 crore in 2019-20, and from goods to grow by more than ₹12,000 crore to ₹1,47,000 crore.
“The total receipts of the railways comprising earnings from passenger, goods…sundry other heads and railway recruitment boards are targeted to increase by 9.5% in the Budget Estimates of 2020-21 over the Revised Estimates (RE) of 2019-20,” the Budget document stated.
The operating ratio, which was envisaged to be 95% in BE 2019-20 and revised to 97.46% in RE 2019-2020, is expected to be 96.2% in 2020-21. An operating ratio of 96.2% means that the Railways is spending 96.2 paise to earn 100 paise.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her Budget Speech proposed setting up a large solar power capacity alongside the rail tracks, on the land owned by the railways, besides re-development of four stations, operation of 150 passenger trains via public-private partnership mode and introduction of more Tejas type trains to iconic tourist destinations.
Ms. Sitharaman also proposed a 148-km Bengaluru suburban transport project at a cost of ₹18,600 crore, which would have fares on the metro model.
The Railway Board has said that the third ‘corporate’ train to be run by IRCTC will run between Indore and Varanasi, and is likely to begin operations mid-February. The overnight train, which will have the same rakes as those of the Humsafar Express, will run three days a week — two days via Lucknow and one day via Allahabad.
While the first two trains operated by IRCTC (on the Delhi-Lucknow and Ahmedabad-Mumbai routes) were chair cars, this one will have sleeper coaches.