With highest ever plan capex, railways budget transformational: CEO
New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) With railways getting the highest-ever total plan capex at Rs 2.15 lakh crore, Railway Board Chairman and CEO Suneet Sharma on Monday described the Union Budget 2021-22 as a “transformational” budget for the national transporter and one which has focus on deliverance.
Addressing a press conference here, he said: “This budget is a different budget altogether. It is a transformational budget, it is a future ready budget for railway, it is a path-breaking budget.”
Sharma said the focus of this budget is on deliverance, commitment to delivery, time schedule, focus on customers, focus on technology, induction to provide better services to customers, better passenger and freight services.
Highlighting the works of the railways during the Covid pandemic, he said: “During the year, we have been able to make significant change in our working. During this difficult time of Covid pandemic, we could transport essential commodities from one part of the country to other. We also took initiative in moving our migrants.”
He stressed that the Covid was a difficult time, but railways used it as an opportunity. “There was a large number of works which we did during Covid pandemic, by removing bottlenecks, repairs and rehabilitation of assets,” he said.
Sharma also said that the works resulted in the average speed of the trains showing a dramatic growth in doubling the speed of the freight trains from 23 kmph to 46 kmph.
On the details of the Budget announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Lok Sabha, he said: “Indian Railways has now highest ever total Plan capex of Rs 2,15,058 crore this year with Rs 7,500 crore from internal resources, Rs 1,00,258 crore from extra budgetary resources and Rs 1,07,100 crore for capital expenditure allocation given in the general budget.”
He said that the railways received a record outlay of Rs 1,10,055 crore, of which Rs 1,07,100 crore is for capital expenditure.
“The Gross Budgetary allocation is Rs 37,050 crore higher than BE 2020-21, which is 53 per cent. Inspite of the Covid, this is remarkable vindication of the progress being made being undertaken in infrastructure projects in railways,” Sharma said.
“With this increase in Capex, Indian Railways will be the driver of Indian economy. The thrust of annual Plan 2021-22 is on infrastructure development, throughput enhancement, development of terminal facilities, augmentation of speed of trains, signaling systems, improvement of passengers or users’ amenities, safety works of road over or under bridges etc,” he said.
Discussing the National Rail Plan, he said the NRP envisages the plan for railways for 2050 for which the infrastructure needs to be prepared by 2030.
Sharma also said that national projects of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and North Eastern region have been allocated highest ever outlay of Rs 12,985 crore.
He said that in Budget Estimate of 2021-22 against the Revised Estimate of 2020-21 of Rs 7,535 crore, there is an increase of 72 per cent.
He said that Rs 37,270 crore of gross budgetary support has been allocated for investment in PSU/JV/SPVs, with allocation for DFCCIL at RS 16,086 crore, for National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd (NHSRCL) at Rs 14,000 crore and Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (KMRCL) at Rs 900 crore.
Highlighting the projects which the railways completed last year, he said: “During the Covid pandemic, we completed some important projects like connecting the railway line to Kevadia in Gujarat for the Statue of Unity, inauguration of over 650 km of Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC).”
He said that railways are hopeful of completing another 500 km of DFC by this financial year and complete the entire project by June 2022.
He also said that wheel production will also be indigenised in Rae Bareli, as well as Vande Bharat train sets, track machines, and also the train collision avoidance system (TCAS).
“We have started using TCAS for 250 km of South Central Railway and for 1,200 km of sanctioned work is going on. And we plan to cover the high density network and high utility network in coming years,” Sharma said.
Discussing the future plan of railways, the CEO said: “At least 150 more private trains through PPP mode, more Tejas trains, more vista dome coach trains for tourists, 3rd ac economy class coaches, SMART coaches which are providing more features like announcements, temperature control system and to check water levels, head on generation cars to make space for more coaches.”
He said that satellite-based tracking of trains with ISRO already operational on 6,500 trains.