As first time the Railway Budget is merged with General Budget. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley termed it as “ridding us of the colonial era practice of separate budgets”.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made a slew of announcements for Indian Railways – from doing away with service charge for IRCTC ticket booking to proposal to list IRCTC, IRCON and IRFC.
FM Jaitley said that the total capital and development outlay for Indian Railways will be Rs 1.31 lakh crore, out of which the government will provide Rs 55,000 crore.
The merger of the Union Budget and Railway Budget was proposed by the Railway Minister and endorsed by the NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India- Government of India’s policy think-tank established to replace the Planning Commission).
The history of having separate Budget dates back to the British era.
Here are the highlights of what Budget 2017 has for railways.
- Rs 55,000 cr announced for Railways
- Railway tariffs to be fixed on the basis of cost, social obligation and competition
- New metro rail policy will be unveiled. This is expected to open up new jobs for the youth
- Service charge on e-tickets booked through IRCTC will be withdrawn
- 500 railway stations will be made differently-abled friendly by providing lifts and escalators
- Government proposes Coach Mitra facility to redress grievances related to rail coaches
- Unmanned railway level crossings to be eliminated by 2020
- Railway line of 3,500 km will be commissioned in 2017-18 as against 2,800 km in 2016-17
- Rs 1 lakh cr corpus for railway safety fund over five years
- Functional autonomy of the railways to be maintained
- Merger will brings focus on a multi-modal approach for development
- By 2019, all coaches of the Indian Railways will be fitted with bio-toilets