Indian Railways may see Higher Capital Expenditure in Railway Budget 2020

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Railway Budget 2020 speech, as part of the Union Budget 2020 speech, may announce an increase in the capital expenditure for Indian Railways, according to a UNI report The Railway Budget 2020, is a part of the Union Budget 2020, which will be presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tommorow (February 1, 2020) in the Lok Sabha. In the last year’s Union Budget, Indian Railways received a budgetary allocation of Rs 65,837 crore and the highest ever outlay of Rs 1.60 lakh crore.

With an added emphasis on areas such as modernisation of the signalling system, rolling stock, as well as doubling and tripling of railway tracks, the budget allocations could get a hike this year. Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal recently discussed the plan of electrification of railways and the huge investment opportunity that it presents at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. For the fiscal year 2019-2020, the budget had pegged the investment requirement of Indian Railways at a sum of Rs 50 lakh crore over a period of 12 years. In the month of December last year, Nirmala SItharaman had unveiled a 102 lakh crore national infrastructure pipeline in which the railway projects will be accounting for Rs 13.68 lakh crore.

Piyush Goyal has stressed the need for a public-private partnership (PPP) funding model for the railway sector as the big investments will be impossible through government and railway budgets. The Indian Railways network may also witness increased participation of the private players in terms of the modernisation of railway stations and better passenger facilities. It was also announced by the government that private players will soon operate 150 new trains on a revenue-sharing model.

In the 2019-2020 Budget speech, Sitharaman had stated that given the annual capital expenditure outlays of Indian Railways is 1.5 trillion – 1.6 trillion, completing even all of the sanctioned projects will take decades. Hence, it was proposed to make use of the public-private partnership, in order to lead a faster development and completion of tracks, rolling stock manufacturing as well as delivery of passenger freight services.

In the year 2019, Indian Railways initiated a slew of new services, which strengthened the infrastructure and passenger-friendly facilities across the national transporter’s network. Indian Railways had offered free RailWire WiFi facility at as many as 5,400 railway stations. The real-time train information system in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the automatic chart preparation and passenger train information was also introduced.

Indian Railways may also cut its freight rates to draw more traffic from the road. Vinod Yadav, Chairman, Railway Board spoke about rationalising the fares and freight rates. Starting from January 1, 2020, the passenger fares have been hiked by 1- 4 paisa across the various classes. The flexi fare scheme has also been extended by a year till the month of March 2021 to raise the earnings.