Goyal discusses crucial aspects of Budgetary allocations for Railways with the Finance Minister

Piyush Goyal – a silent Task Master Minister with an excellent Professional Background, to prove his mettle and resilience today.

NEW DELHI: Though Railway Budget is no longer presented separately in the Parliament, Union Rail Minister definitely plays an important role in providing crucial inputs to the Finance Minister who presents Rail Budget as part of the Union Budget.

On February 1, Union Finance Arun Jaitley will present Railway Budget as part of the Union Budget. However, Jaitley’s budget will have based on crucial inputs provided by Rail Minister Piyush Goyal. It is learnt that Piyush Goyal had a detailed discussion on various vital areas of improvements in Indian Railways and highlighted specific thrust areas in Railways for the Budgetary allocations.

Among them is the major task of Foot Over Bridges on both Central Railway and Western Railway. Both CR and WR aim for additional 70 foot-overbridges by the end of 2018 for which sufficient Budgetary allocations are expected.

Though major projects including elevated corridors and development of five stations were part of the highlights of the last budget for Mumbai suburban, additional foot overbridges and projects included under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)-III A may receive maximum allocation this year.

“As foot overbridge has become a safety item, details of budget allocation for the bridges may be included in the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) which forms ‘railway safety’ fund. As Mumbai suburban usually receives a major share of passenger amenities when compared to other suburban railways, it is likely that the safety fund could allot more for Mumbai suburban,” a senior railway official said.

Both Central Railway and Western Railway aim for additional 70 foot-overbridges by the end of 2018. Officials hope they would receive the complete sanction of the amount sought for adding amenities at stations. Apart from the above, details of 13 major projects under MUTP III-A aimed to add railway tracks and AC locals to Mumbai were also debated. The project could receive official sanction through a token allotment in the budget, officials said. “While each of the other projects under MUTP III-A umbrella is important, we expect a special emphasis on improvement of 15 railway stations.

Improvement of stations, worth Rs 800 crores, will look at measures to decongest stations, provide elevated decks and ensure faster entry and evacuation of people from platforms. After the stampede at Elphinstone Road station last year, this project would be the most highlighted,” said a senior railway official.

Another important proposal sent by CR authorities last year was to develop the heritage building of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT). This would include restoration of the building and financial aid to develop the building into a transport museum.

“Rs 180 crore has been sought for preservation and development of the CSMT building. While Rs 85 crore has been sought for developing an alternative building on platform number 18 to relocate offices from the heritage building, officials have asked for Rs 45 crore for developing the building into a transport museum. We had already asked for an additional Rs 40 crore for restoration work,” said an official.

For the suburban section of WR, Rs 60 crore has been sought to increase the platform length of stations between Andheri and Virar to contain 15-car rakes. The project could be completed in two years, if sanctioned. Officials said the bullet train project, which received Rs 200 crore last year, could also receive a mention in the budget.

“Instead of announcing additional projects, a faster completion of existing railway projects must be aimed at. We have also asked for a separate division to look after the concerns of harbour and trans-harbour rail services,” said Subhash Gupta, member, Railway Pravasi Sangh.

The ambitious MUTP-3A, which has an estimated cost of Rs49,000 crore, is likely to be included in the budget. At the start of January, Goyal had a detailed discussion with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on different infrastructure projects bundled together under MUTP-3A.

The project includes a communication based train control (CBTC) on all three suburban railway lines, extension of harbour line till Borivli, two new lines between Borivli and Virar, quadrupling of Kalyan-Asangaon and Kalyan-Badlapur and Virar-Diva-Panvel suburban line,, among others. Procurement of 210 air-conditioned (AC) local trains is also planned under the project.

“MUTP-3A is likely to get in-principle approval in the budget, after which it will get the required nods from various state and other authorities,” said a senior railway official, who did not want to be named. Some railway officials were skeptical about the complete project approval for MUTP-3A, adding a few major projects such as CBTC, Virar-Diva-Panvel suburban corridor may find a mention in the budget.

Railway officials are hopeful about allocation of more funds for second and third phase of ambitious MUTP project, costing around Rs8,000 crore and Rs10,900 crore, respectively.

Apart from fund allocation for big-ticket projects, railways are hopeful that a significant amount will be allocated for construction of foot overbridges (FoBs), escalators, elevators and other safety-related works in the wake of the Elphinstone Road tragedy that claimed 23 lives on September 29, 2017.

After the incident, Goyal had directed to safety works such as raising, repairing and widening of FOBs be taken up on priority basis and had given more power to the general manager of railways.

The western railway expects allocation for extension of slow platforms between Andheri and Virar to accommodate 15-coach local trains. The CR is hoping budget allocation to transform the World Heritage-tagged CSMT into a transport museum.

The Maharashtra government has requested for Rs2,500crore for ongoing big-ticket railway projects across the state.

A tweet by Fadnavis after a meeting with Goyal in Mumbai suggested that Union finance minister Arun Jaitley might announce setting up of a new coach factory at Latur, which is estimated to cost around Rs2,000 crore, under the Make In India initiative. “Thank you @PiyushGoyalji for your commitment for setting up of a factory of EMU (Electric Multiple Units) and Metro coaches factory at Latur. Big boost to economic activities in Marathwada and huge employment opportunities. I also congratulate @sanbhajipatil77 for continues follow up!,” he tweeted.

Commuter activists said the railway minister should consider their demand of making Mumbai suburban a separate zone, besides taking some concrete steps to boost suburban infrastructure. “Instead of going after making populist announcements, railways should focus on speedy completion of the ongoing projects and allocate sufficient funds for it,” said Subhash Gupta, a commuter activist.

The boom in Mumbai metropolitan region can only be sustained if it has the associated commuting infrastructure, and therefore, the proposed MUTP-3A and MUTP-3 focus on extending the rail network to suburbs such as Virar, Panvel, Karjat, Kasara and other distant localities .

“It is a fact that areas develop when rail lines are laid. Through these new rail lines, we will expand the network which would consequentially reduce crowding in trains,” said a senior railway official.

To begin with, MUTP-3A proposes a fast corridor on the CSMT-Panvel harbour line worth Rs 12,331 crore; a new railway corridor across Panvel-Virar at Rs 7,072 crore to link western suburbs to Navi Mumbai; and additional rail lines between Goregaon-Borivali, Kalyan-Asangaon and Kalyan-Badlapur.

The Rs 10,947 crore MUTP-3 that was approved in the last rail budget focusses on expanding facilities in the MMR.

This includes quadrupling of the Virar-Dahanu line, a new corridor on the 60-km Panvel-Karjat stretch to connect more satellite towns, and an elevated corridor linking Airoli and Kalwa, which would take the burden off Thane.

A Silent Task Master Minister with a excellent Professional Background

Piyush Goyal comes from a renowned political family of Maharashtra. His father Late Ved Prakash Goyal was a respected BJP leader who served as a Union Minister for shipping in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet.

Goyal’s mother Chandrakanta Goel was also a three-term MLA in Maharashtra.

Piyush Goyal was a meritorious student since his school days. Goyal was all-India second rank holder in Chartered Accountant examination.He was also second rank holder in Law in Mumbai University.

A renowned investment banker, Goyal has advised top corporates on management strategy and growth. He has also served on the board of India’s largest commercial banks including the State Bank of India and Bank of Baroda.

Like his father, Piyush Goyal has held crucial positions in the BJP. In 1991 parliamentary elections, Piyush Goyal was the Deputy Campaign In-charge for the BJP. He has played significant roles for the BJP in all subsequent elections.

In Narendra Modi government, Goyal was appointed Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy.

On 5 July 2016, Piyush Goyal took over as the Minister of Mines (Minister of State with Independent charge) from Narendra Singh Tomar.

On 3 September 2017, Goyal was elevated to the cabinet rank and he was given charge of the crucial Railway ministry.