Railways & Transport Sector in Budget 2017-18
The Budget 2017-18 was independent India’s first budget in which Railway Budget was presented as part of the Union Budget itself. The entire transport sector was given Rs. 2.41 Lakh Crore. The Key announcements for Railways and other transport sector are as follows:
In the latest budget, a 22% rise in the Railways Budget was announced. The key announcements on railways are as follows:
Rail Safety Fund
Government will create a Rail Safety Fund (Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh) with a corpus of Rs. 100,000 Crore over a period of 5 years. This fund will be used for track improvement, bridge rehabilitation works, rolling stock replacement, human resource development, improved inspection system, safety work at level crossings, among other things.
Withdrawal of Service Charge on Rail Tickets booked through IRCTC
It was announced that the service charge on rail tickets booked through IRCTC will be withdrawn.
Other announcements on Railways
- As many as 500 rail stations will be made differently abled-friendly by providing lifts and escalators.
- Government will take steps to launch dedicated trains for pilgrimage and tourism jobs.
- A new metro rail policy will be announced
- By 2019, all coaches of Indian Railways to be fitted with bio-toilets.
- Railways will integrate end to end transport solutions for selected commodities through partnerships.
- Unmanned railway level crossings to be eliminated by 2020
- The outlay for National Highways was enhanced by 11% to Rs. 64000 Crore in 2017-18.
- 2,000 km of coastal connectivity roads have been identified for construction and development. This will facilitate better connectivity of ports and remote villages. The development of coastal connectivity roads will facilitate better connectivity with ports and remote villages. It is an important step towards development of integrated transportation network in India.
- Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana PMGSY will have an allocation of Rs.27,000 crore. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana has an objective of providing all-weather road connectivity to rural habitations which are not connected at present. The rise of budgetary allocation is a significant initiative to boost the rural economy enabling employment generation, trade, more efficient supply chains and lower inventory costs.
Further, the Airport Authority of India Act will be amended to enable effective monetisation of land assets. We note here that the Airports Authority of India owns extensive land in and around the airport. Allowing AAI to unlock land will provide them enough resources to fund airport expansion plans in the country. The resources, so raised, will be utilised for airport upgradation and better passenger services.