Highest capex for Railways at 1.60 lakh crore

New Delhi (IANS) In her maiden Budget speech, Finance MInister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday gave Indian Railways the highest-ever outlay for capital expenditure amounting to Rs 1.60 lakh crore and a budgetary allocation of Rs 65,837 crore.

According to the budgetary estimates, the capex in regular Budget has been increased from Rs 1,58,658 crore in interim budget to Rs 1,60,175.64 crore due to enhancement in gross budgetary support of Rs 1,250 crore and contribution from Nirbhaya fund of Rs 267.64 crore.

This is the highest-ever allocation for the national transporter.

Railway officials said the regular Budget capex was high by Rs 26,779 crore as compared to the the actual Budget of 2018-19.

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

The Budget has allocated funds of Rs 7,255 crore 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, which was presented by the then Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, who is also the Railway Minister. 

Earlier in the day, Sitharaman while presenting the Budget in the Lok Sabha, stressed that railway infrastructure would need an investment of Rs 50 lakh crore 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 connectivity.

Sitharaman said: "It is estimated that railway infrastructure would need an investment of Rs 50 lakh crore between 2018 to 2030. Given that the capital expenditure outlays of railways is between Rs 1.5 to 1.6 lakh crore per annum, completing even all sanctioned projects would take decades.

"It is therefore proposed to use public-private partnership to unleash faster development and completion of tracks and rolling stock manufacture and also delivery of passenger freight services." 

She said the national transporter will be encouraged to invest more in suburban network through special purpose vehicle structures such as the Rapid Regional Transport System. Such a system is proposed on the Delhi-Meerut route.

"I propose to enhance the metro railway initiative by encouraging more public private partnership initiatives and ensuring completion of sanctioned works while supporting transit oriented development to ensure commercial activity around transit hubs," she said.

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

Developing passenger amenities seemed to 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 passengers.

Railways headache would remain is the revenue expenditure which includes an estimated salary payout of Rs 86,554.31 crore, about Rs 14,000 crore more than last year.

The Budget estimates also allocated Rs 267.64 cr for Nirbhaya Fund including 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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