Finance Minister Arun Jaitley brought a big smile on railway passengers when he announced that the service charge on booking of tickets through IRCTC will be removed. In the first ever combined Union Budget-Railway Budget, FM Arun Jaitley said that the Indian Railways will undertake transformative steps to better compete with other mode of transports.
It is for the first time since 1924 that the Railway Budget has been merged with the Union Budget.
India budget 2017/18 allocates 550 billion rupees for railways. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposes to invest 1.31 trillion rupee in railways in 2017/18. Finance Minister made more significant announcements for the railways in his Union Budget 2017 speech in Parliament:
- A Rail safety funs with a corpus of Rs 1, 00,000 crore will be created over a period of 5 years.
- The service charge on a rail tickets booked through IRCTC will be withdrawn.
- New steps will be taken to launch dedicated trains for pilgrimage and tourism.
- Metro rail has emerged as an important mode of transports in Urban areas. A new metro rail policy will be announced with focus on innovative models of implementations and financing as well as standardisation. This will also open up new job opportunity for the youth in the country.
- Railways have put up a joint venture with nine state governments At least 25 new stations are expected to be awarded during 2017-18. As many as 500 railway stations will be made for differently abled-friendly by providing lifts and escalators.
- By 2019, all coaches of the Indian Railways will be lifted with the bio-toilets.
- Railways will integrate end to end transport solutions for selected commodities through partnerships.
- Unmanned railway level crossings on board gauge lines will be eliminated by 2020.
- Centralised Defence Travel System has been designed to allow defence personnel to book tickets online.
- Expert international assistance will be provided to improve safety provisions and maintenance practice.
- ‘Swachh Railways’ is the focus of the government this year. An SMS service ‘Clean my coach’ has been started and passengers can also register all coach related complaints and requirements.
- Railways will offer competitive ticket booking facility to the public at large.
- Finance minister proposed to feed at least 7,000 stations with solar power in the medium term and said that the beginning has already been made in 300 stations. He also added that this work will be taken up for 2000 stations as part of the government’s 1000 megawatt solar mission.