Govt. allocates ‘record’ ₹1.10 lakh cr. for railways

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday proposed a ‘record’ allocation of ₹1.10 lakh crore for the Indian Railways in the Budget, with a total capital expenditure outlay of ₹2.15 lakh crore for the upcoming financial year.

With a 33% increase in total capital expenditure for 2021-22 over ₹1.61 lakh crore (revised estimates) for 2020-21, the Railways said funds would be utilised to boost ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission’ and towards completion of vital infrastructure projects, capacity building, passenger amenities and safety enhancement.

Special loan

According to Budget documents, during the year, the Railways was provided ₹79,398 crore as ‘Special Loan for COVID-related resource gap’ and towards liquidating the adverse balance that occurred in Public Account in 2019-2020.

As per the data shared by Railways, the total capital expenditure outlay includes, ‘highest-ever’ ₹1.07 lakh crore from gross budgetary support, ₹7,500 crore from internal resources and over ₹1 lakh crore from external budgetary resources.

In the upcoming year, the government expects its revenue receipts from Railways, including passenger, goods and other coaching, sundry other heads, to be about ₹2.17 lakh crore as against ₹1.46 lakh crore in 2020-21 (revised estimate).

The Railways, which was hit badly by the pandemic, had earlier estimated 2020-21 revenue to be over ₹2.25 lakh crore.

While the passenger earnings for 2020-21 have been revised to ₹15,000 crore as against ₹61,000 crore, revised estimate for goods earnings is about ₹1.24 lakh crore as against Budget estimate of ₹1.37 lakh crore. For the next financial year, the Railways has kept the revenue estimates the same as for 2020-21.

The Finance Minister also announced that the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) and Eastern DFC are expected to be commissioned by June 2022 and the Railways will monetise DFC assets for operations and maintenance, after commissioning.

“The Sonnagar — Gomoh Section (263.7 km) of Eastern DFC will be taken up in PPP mode in 2021-22. Gomoh—Dankuni section of 274.3 km will also be taken up in short succession,” she said in her speech.

Additionally, she proposed that future dedicated freight corridor projects — East Coast corridor from Kharagpur to Vijayawada, East-West Corridor from Bhusaval to Kharagpur to Dankuni and North-South corridor from Itarsi to Vijayawada would be undertaken.

She also said 100% electrification of broad-gauge routes would be completed by December 2023. Broad Gauge Route Kilometers (RKM) electrified is expected to reach 46,000 RKM i.e., 72% by end of 2021 from 41,548 RKM on October 1, 2020.

For passenger convenience and safety, the Minister said Railways will introduce aesthetically designed Vista Dome LHB coach on tourist routes to give a better travel experience. Additionally, to further strengthen safety effort, “high density network and highly utilized network routes of Indian railways will be provided with an indigenously developed automatic train protection system that eliminates train collision due to human error,” she said.

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