There has been no hike in passenger fare and freight charges in the Interim Budget 2019 announced by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday, which also saw the highest ever capital expenditure allocation of Rs 1.58 lakh crore for the national transporter.
With Lok Sabha elections slated to be held in April-May, hikes in fares were not expected.
Last year, then finance minister Arun Jaitley had allocated an amount of Rs 1.48 lakh crore for the Railways in his budget.
Goyal, who is also the Railway minister, said so far 2018-2019 has been the safest for the Indian Railways and all unmanned level crossings on the broad gauge network have been completely eliminated.
"Capital expenditure programme of the Railways is at all-time high of Rs 1.58 lakh crore in next financial year. Vande Bharat Express, indigenously developed semi-high speed train, will give Indian passengers world class experience.
"This major leap in wholly developed technology by our engineers will give an impetus to the Make in India programme and create jobs," he said in his debut budget speech.
The budget estimates under revenue for the year 2019-20 (gross) is Rs 2,72,705.68 crore, recording an increase of Rs 22,854.67 crore over the revised estimates of Rs 2,49,851.01 crore for 2018-19.
In the budget, funds of Rs 7,255 crore have been allocated for construction of new lines, Rs 2,200 crore for gauge conversion, Rs 700 crore for doubling, Rs 6,114.82 crore for rolling stock and Rs 1,750 crore for signalling and telecom.
Goyal also announced that the operating ratio for the current fiscal has improved to 96.2 per cent, and in the next financial year the aim will be to lower it to 95 per cent.
More state-of-the-art coaches in the offing
Rail passengers are in for some faster, fancier and state-of-the-art coaches and trains in the coming fiscal as Piyush Goyal increased the allocation for railways' rolling stock by 64 per cent.
The term rolling stock in rail transport refers to any vehicle that moves on rail tracks. It includes coaches, wagons and train sets.
The railways' plan of exporting its coaches and be a part of the USD 200 billion rolling stock market worldwide will get a huge impetus by allocation of Rs 6,114.82 crore in the Budget. In 2018-2019, budgetary allocation in this regard was Rs 3,724.93 crore.
Buoyed by the success of the indigenous Train-18 (named recently Vande Bharat Express) which has hit a maximum speed of 180 kmph during trials, the new air-conditioned rakes, rakes for the metros and other such coaches and train sets, the railways has already drawn a blueprint till 2021 to increase production in its factories.
According to officials, if the target set by the railways for its factories - the Modern Coach Factory in Rai Barely, the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai and its factories in Kapurthala and Haldia - is met, then they would have together manufactured almost 15,000 coaches of different kinds in 2019-2021.
These will include 200 Humsafar coaches, 290 Deen Dayalu coaches, 40 Antyodya coaches and other coaches for metros, electric multiple unit (EMUs) and mainline electric multiple units (MEMUs).
The Railways is also planning to produce six more Train 18s at a cost of Rs 97 crore each.