PUNE: Presenting the Union Budget 2019-20, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday made several important announcements for the Railways. The Finance Minister stressed on a clean, safe and timely rail journey.
The Finance Minister said private participation through Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model will be promoted in Indian Railways and metro rail projects. She approved the PPP model for building railway tracks in the Budget.
PRIVATE TRAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME
With private participation in railways, the government is going to start operating private trains for the first time in the country. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Indian Railways has a plan to allow private partners to operate a few select trains on tourist routes. Under the 100-day plan of the government, two trains will be allotted to IRCTC for operation. Through this, efforts will be made to provide train passengers and other premium facilities.”
MODERNISATION OF TRACKS AND SIGNALLING
“We are working not only to run fast trains but also to give special attention to the modernisation of tracks and signalling. Indian Railways is also contemplating to adopt the European signalling infrastructure soon. This will not only accelerate rail travel but will also make it safer than before,” she said, in her maiden budget speech.
MULTI-MODAL TRANSPORT HUB AT RAILWAY STATIONS
Railways have made an agreement with France to make stations world-class. Under this agreement, the government will spend seven million euros on structural development. It is known that Indian Railways has already started working towards making the stations world-class. Under this, railway stations will now be made multi-modal transport hubs.
RS 50 LAKH CRORE REQUIREMENT FOR MODERNISATION
The Finance Minister said in order to modernise the railway infrastructure and the approved schemes, Rs 50 lakh crore is needed. These projects have to be completed from 2018 to 2030. Special emphasis will be on the structural development of the railways, It will include the structure of the stations, along with the extension and improvement of railway tracks. The goal is to make the stations of international standards. Railways have set a goal of redevelopment of 22 major railway stations in the country, including the Bandra Terminus, Kolkata and Kanpur Central. The Indian Railway Station Development Corporation aims to provide airport-like facilities at these stations.
CCTV PRIORITY IN STATIONS AND TRAINS
The Finance Minister said that their focus will also be on a safe rail journey. CCTV cameras will be installed inside stations and on trains to for passengers’ safety and security.
NO INCREASE IN PASSENGER FARES
The biggest relief for travellers is that Finance Minister Sitharaman has not announced any increase in passenger fares. “There will be no change in passenger fares. Moreover, a special campaign will be started by Railways this year for the restoration of railway stations. It also includes a plan to beautify the stations,” she said.
MODERNISATION OF RAILWAY ENGINES
The Finance Minister said, “Indian Railways is focusing on green energy under the pollution-free campaign. Under this, old diesel locomotives are being modernised. Modernisation of the engines under the Make in India campaign is being done in the country.