The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended the 92-year-old tradition of presenting the Rail Budget and the Union budget separately by including the Rail Budget in the Union Budget in the year 2015. Carrying on the newly-found tradition, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the Rail Budget in the Parliament on February 1. Earlier, while commenting on the Rail Budget, Union Rail Minister Piyush Goyal had stated that the budget will be focused on good governance and development. The minister had also stated that all the sections of the people will be benefitting from the new rail budget.
While announcing the Rail Budget 2018-19, Arun Jaitley stated that the capital expenditure (CAPEX) for Indian Railways will be Rs 1.48 lakh crore. Apart from the capital expenditure, Arun Jaitley also stated that the government will be constructing a tunnel at Sela Pass in Arunachal Pradesh. Earlier in July 2017, the ruling government had proposed the idea. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) was said to construct two tunnels through 4170-metre Sela Pass in Arunachal Pradesh, which would cut down the distance to China border through Tawang by 10 kms.
Also, it seemed that the government also learned from its previous mistakes. While announcing the Rail Budget 2018-19, Arun Jaitley stated that all the railway stations in India with over 25,000 footfall per day will have escalators. The following development comes in the wake of Elphinstone Railway Station tragedy that claimed several lives. In order to ensure safety to the commuters travelling through railways, FM Jaitley said that all trains will progressively be provided with Wi-Fi, CCTV and other state-of-the-art amenities to provide safe travelling to the passengers.
Taking the note of the massive footfall at Mumbai Railway station, Jaitley stated that Rs 11,000 crore will be used to add 90 km of double line track. Also, taking the cognizance of deteriorating conditions of Indian railway stations, he said, “600 major railway stations will be redeveloped”. The Minister further added, “12,000 wagons, 5160 coaches and 700 locomotives being procured. There are significant achievements of physical targets by Railways”.
Eyeing the upcoming assembly polls in Karnataka, FM Arun Jaitley said, “Rs 17000 cr has been allotted to create and extent suburban Bangalore railway network”. Recalling the Bullet Train project, whose foundation was laid jointly by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, Arun Jaitley announced that an institute is coming up in Vadodara to train the manpower required for the high-speed railway projects.