Union Budget 2017-18: How will Railways mop up the Safety Surcharge?

NEW DELHI: Imposition of a safety surcharge while removing the online booking service charges, and disinvesting railway PSUs such as IRFC, IRCTC and IRCON are some of the key announcements made by the Finance Minister in the railways segment.

The Finance Minister has proposed a safety surcharge of Rs. 1 lakh crore over five years, which will be raised by the Indian Railways.

This move could push railways to up tariffs depending on the extent of seed funding to be provided by the Finance Ministry.

To promote online ticket booking, the Finance Minister has proposed that the service charge of IRCTC be waived.

The service charge on online ticket booking has already been waived after demonetisation. This means a loss of about Rs. 40 crore for the IRCTC, which the Ministry has sought from the Finance Ministry.

The plan size of the Indian Railways is expected to be Rs. 1,31,000 crore (2017-18 BE) against Rs. 1,21,000 crore (BE 2016-17). The proposed budgetary support for 2017-18 is Rs. 55,000 crore against Rs. 45,000 crore in the 2016-17 BE.

He added that the shares of railway public sector units such as IRFC, IRCTC and IRCON are to be listed on the stock exchanges.

On projects, the FM has said 25 station development projects would be awarded this fiscal.

The migration of Railways to accrual-based accounting will be done in 2019.

On the metro rail segment, the FM said there would be standardisation and indigenisation of hardware and software.

All coach related complaints and requirements can be put into a single window mechanism, to be announced by the Railway Ministry.

Pilot plants for environment-friendly disposal of solid waste and conversion of biodegradable waste to energy are being set up at New Delhi and Jaipur railway stations. Five more such solid waste management plants are now being taken up.

“Railways will implement end-to-end integrated transport solutions for select commodities through partnership with logistics players, who would provide both front and back-end connectivity. Rolling stock and practices will be customised to transport perishable goods, especially agricultural products,” added the Finance Minister in his speech.