What's wrong with the Indian railways
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented the expected budget for the election year 2018/19 today (February 1st, 2018). Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has drawn up a budget for this, which is designed to help poor farmers and rural areas while promoting growth, jobs and private investments, especially in infrastructure.
The provision of an extra railway budget was abolished last year. In the past, this rail budget, which was widely announced in the media, often provided for the establishment of new trains, the fate of which was linked to the future of the railway minister. A railway minister used to give away new trains mainly to his home country. The current minister, Piyush Goyal, now "no longer has to jeopardize his reputation," as India Today puts it.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced in his speech on the 2018 Union budget an investment of Rs 1.48 lakh crore (18.7 billion euros) for the Indian railways. According to Jaitley, most of that money will be spent on capacity expansion as this is the top priority for the railways right now. Associated with this are the expansion to double-track 18,000 km of routes and the adjustment of the gauges in order to eliminate capacity bottlenecks.
Rail capital expenditure for the year 2018-19 is Rs.1,48,528 crore. A large part of the investment is used to create capacity. 4,000 kilometers of electrified rail network are scheduled to go into operation in 2017-18. Work on the east and west freight corridors is in full swing. A sufficient number of vehicles - 12,000 wagons, 5,160 wagons and about 700 locomotives will be procured in 2018-19. Over 3600 km of track renewal are planned for the current financial year. The renovation of 600 large train stations is being tackled.
Indian Railways is expected to explore additional funding options for its ambitious projects. Funding the railroad is all the more necessary as it is not a for-profit public enterprise and any increase in the fare to cover the losses would put a further burden on the population.
According to the Indian media, construction and engineering offices as well as manufacturers of railway wagons could benefit in particular from the record spending on infrastructure (roads and railways). These include Larsen & Toubro Ltd, Hindustan Construction Co Ltd, NCC Ltd, IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd, Dilip Buildcon Ltd, Titagarh Wagons Ltd, and Cimmco Ltd.
Also included in the budget are the expansion of Mumbai's local railway network to 90 kilometers of double-track line, as well as other plans to keep pace with the growth of the Bengaluru metropolis.
In the rail sector, in addition to infrastructure, safety and comfort for passengers will have top priority within the Union's 2018-19 budget. In the past year, more than 35 train accidents were reported. A government report said there were 29 rail accidents in the first six months, killing 58 people. Minister of State for Railways, Rajen Gohain, said 69 percent of accidents were caused by derailments.
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