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Railway Budget 2021 — 57% jump in allocation, new vision for 2030, focus on freight corridor

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced Rs 1.07 lakh crore in capital expenditure for the railways for 2021-22.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has announced an allocation of Rs 1.10 lakh crore for the Indian Railways as part of Budget 2021, a 57 per cent jump from last year’s figure of approximately Rs 70,000 crore.

Additionally, Rs 1.07 lakh crore will be the provision for the railways’ capital expenditure, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in her Budget speech in Parliament Monday.

The Indian Railways’ focus for 2021-22 will be on commissioning the eastern and western Dedicated Freight Corridors, with gradual monetisation of corridor assets, bringing down logistics cost, green railways and further promoting public-private partnership in the railways, a strategically important sector that has suffered massive losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown. Full-scale railway services are yet to be restored.

The DFC is the railways’ largest infrastructure project in independent India; it was approved back in 2006 with the aim of decongesting the railway network by laying special tracks made exclusively for goods trains. The government is expected to commission the new corridors by June 2022.

Also read: Pandemic pushes India’s fiscal deficit to 9.5% in 2020-21, estimated at 6.8% in 2021-22

National Rail Plan, 2030

Sitharaman also said the Indian Railways has prepared a National Rail Plan for India, 2030. The plan entails creating a future-ready railways system by 2030, which would bring down logistics cost for the industry and enable ‘Make in India’. The minister added that 100 per cent electrification of broad gauge routes will be completed by December 2023.

The railways had last year announced the National Rail Plan, 2024, as part of which it had sought to focus on business and infrastructure development to meet its objective of 2,024-million tonnes of freight loading capacity by 2024.

The plan also sought to rationalise freight tariffs in order to compete more effectively with the roadways, to reduce transit time and cost, and also achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The railways had also planned multi-tracking of 16,373 kilometres of its route under Vision 2024. This would entail 32 essential projects, 68 critical projects, 58 super critical projects, 146 electrification projects, 20 additional coal connectivity projects, 120 traffic facility works, 686 signalling and telecommunication works and Northeast connectivity projects, among others. All these targets have also been included in the 2030 plan.

The safety measures undertaken in the past few years have already borne results, and going ahead, high-density network and highly utilised network routes of the railways will be provided with indigenously developed automatic train protection systems, which eliminate train collision due to human error, Sitharaman added.

Also read: Privatisation gets mega push in Budget 2021, most ambitious plan since Vajpayee era


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