Union Budget: Finance Minister to focus on rail safety, reforms

Raj Kamal Rao

Increasing the railway revenue without changing freight and passenger tariff is pitched to be the focus of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley when he presents Union Budget.

Stepping aside from the tradition of announcing train names….. Jaitley is expected to address the crucial operating ratio of railways

Railway-AccidentThe Union Budget of 2017, by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley marks a new era for railways sector. An administrative decision to merge it with Union Budget it giving new hopes to railways which is expecting governments support on improving passenger amenities, safety and signalling systems.

As per the available information, Indian Railways is expecting an Rs 1.35 lakh crore of financial outlay for the financial year, a 15 per cent jump compared to Railways very on last budget. A major chunk of the increased money is expected to go to construction of new lines, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corp. (DFCC) and rolling stock.

Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Chairman of Central Board of Excise and Customs, Najib Shah and other officials  at the 5th Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meeting in New Delhi on Friday.

Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Chairman of Central Board of Excise and Customs, Najib Shah and other officials at the 5th Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meeting in New Delhi on Friday.

Experts believe that merger of budgets will address issues like cross subsidisation of passenger fares, rationalisation of tariffs. With the recent spate of derailments, the allocations to railway safety are also expected to be higher in the Railway sector.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is also expected to increase the Railway revenue from Sources like advertisements and monetisation of soft assets in stations.

This move is aimed at addressing the pressure on the railways operating ratio which has been affected by the depreciation in the freight earnings and to increase the working expenses of the railways. As per the Evaluation Report published by Railways, the freight earnings have come down by 7.2 percent as compared to last year.