Highest-ever allocation to fast-forward Railway plans

1,48,528 crore earmarked to boost track conversion and capacity addition

In the highest-ever allocation, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday announced a capital expenditure of ₹1,48,528 crore for the Railway Ministry for the year 2018-19.

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A large part of these funds will be utilised for capacity addition. The government has decided to double 18,000 km of tracks and to work on third and fourth lines in several sectors. “Five thousand kilometres of gauge conversion would augment capacity and transform almost the entire network into broad gauge,” the Finance Minister said. Mr. Jaitley also said 4,000 km of the railway network will be commissioned for electrification during 2017-18.

Freight corridors

The budget has also made provision for acquisition of 12,000 wagons, 5,160 coaches and approximately 700 locomotives during 2018-19. The Finance Minister said work on the eastern and western dedicated freight corridors was in full swing.

While ₹51,000 crore has been allocated for strengthening the Mumbai suburban network, the budget has allocated ₹17,000 crore to add 160 km of suburban network in Bengaluru to cater to the growth of the metropolis.

Responding to the allocations, Vishwas Udgirkar, partner, Deloitte India, said: “Measures announced on Railways investment is laudable, with focus on capacity creation, passenger safety, doubling of lines, and electrification. Specific mention of improving suburban train system in Mumbai is heartening announcement.”

Sudhir Rao, managing director, India, Bombardier Transportation, said going by the Budget announcement, the Railway Ministry has a vision to create a world-class, environmentally sustainable, energy efficient rail transportation in India. “Our rail vehicles from commuter trains to metros, monorails to locomotives, high-speed trains to light rail vehicles provide sustainable mobility across cities globally moving millions daily. We are pleased with the intent for procurement of rolling stock by Indian Railways,” Mr. Rao said.

“As a leading supplier of rail systems and products, we welcome the priority given to execution of projects. Capital expenditure of ₹1.48 lakh crore was announced and most of this money will be spent on capacity expansion which represents huge business opportunities for rail suppliers,” he added.

“Modernising the railways riding on technology offers the appropriate ecosystem for the development of smart cities. This will help attract more business and increased employment opportunities for the local populace,” said Keshav R. Murugesh, Group CEO, WNS Global Services.

Tech solutions

Rajaji Meshram, director, Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare Services, KPMG in India said, “The focus of investment is on safety, electrification, track doubling/tripling and rolling stock such as train sets, wagons, coaches and locomotives.”

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