Safety, infrastructure development likely to be focus of Rail Budget
New Delhi, Jan 31: A safety fund of Rs 20,000 crore for railways reeling under a series of deadly derailments, development of new lines, station redevelopment and setting up of rail development authority and high speed rail authority will be in focus as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents the first Rail Budget subsumed in the General Budget on Wednesday.
Going ahead with the government's reform agenda, Jaitley will discard the 92-year-long tradition of presentation of a separate rail budget and instead make it part of the General Budget earmarking a few paragraphs on the public transporter's finance, projects and the road map for the next fiscal.
Jailtley is likely to give more focus on infrastructure development such as new lines, doubling, station redevelopment, safety upgradation. Reeling under a series of derailments, the Budget is likely to announce creation of a separate safety fund of about Rs 1 lakh crore over the next five years out of which Rs 20,000 cr will be earmarked for 2017-18, according to sources.
Railways will also miss the operating ratio target of 92 per cent and is likely to settle at about 94-95 per cent. The Budget 2017-18 is likely to announce setting up of Rail Development Authority, a regulatory authority for the public transporter.
The formation of high speed rail authority with the selection of its managing director and other directors is also likely to be announced.
The Budget will also give a fillip to non-fare revenue exercise and monetising assets like vacant land, estimated to be about 48,000 hectares including redevelopment of stations with private participation.