Budget 2019: FM promises Pvt Investment boost to Railways for Infra Devpt, allocates Rs.28,000 Crore on PPP Model

An amount of Rs 1.59 lakh crore has been allocated to the Railways which is 15 per cent higher than the allocation in the revised budget of 2018-19 which was Rs 1.48 lakh crore.

NEW DELHI: Encouragement to private investment in the Railways for infrastructure development was the biggest takeaway from the first Union budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. An amount of Rs 1.59 lakh crore has been allocated to the Railways which is 15 per cent higher than the allocation in the revised budget of 2018-19 which was Rs 1.48 lakh crore.

In her speech on Friday, Sitharaman highlighted the need for large-scale investments in the Railways for infrastructure development even as she said the government would not be able to increase the outlays substantially. Hence, she proposed to encourage the public-private partnership (PPP) and allocated Rs 28,100 crore for the same. The allocation was Rs 27,000 crore and Rs 22,116 crore in the previous two budgets.

A dedicated freight corridor is one of the ambitious projects being undertaken by the Narendra Modi government. Sitharaman said infrastructure development would need an investment of Rs 50 lakh crore between 2018 and 2030 which can be done through the PPP model.

An amount of Rs 1,750 crore was allotted for signaling and telecommunication to ensure faster movement of passenger trains. Another Rs 2,700 crore was allotted for gauge conversion and doubling of the tracks with an increase of 12 per cent as compared to the revised budget of 2018-19.

Funds worth Rs 7,255 crore was allotted for construction of new lines. In a relief for passengers, no new fare hike was announced, even as the government decided to focus on green energy.

The conversion of a diesel locomotive to an electric one was a recent development in that front.

As part of the station beautification programme, the Metropolitan Transportation Project was allotted Rs 1,600 crore, double the allocation of the 2017-18 budget with an emphasis on suburban network development.

By year-end, a 210-km metro network will be added to the 657-km network operational across the country, the finance minister said. Earlier, the railway budget used to be presented separately. However, the Modi government merged it with the Union budget in 2016.

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