This was the first time that the government merged both the Indian Railway Budget with the Union Finance Budget with the rationale that this would facilitate a multi modal transport planning between railways, highways and inland waterways.
- Total Expenditure including Capital and Developmental pegged at Rs. 1.31 lakh crore. 42% of this expenditure will be funded by the government.
- Budgeted Estimate for 2016-17 stood at Rs. 0.45 lakh crore which was later revised to Rs. 0.46 lakh crore. Budgeted Railways Expenditure for 2017-18 stands at Rs. 0.55 lakh crore.
- Action Plan for 2017-18 would be on four major areas i.e. Passenger safety, Capital and development works, Cleanliness and Finance & accounting reforms.
What’s new this time?
- Passenger Safety will be funded by a corpus of Rs. 1 lakh crore over a period of 5 years. This will be seed funded by the government with toppings from the Railways own kitty and other external sources. This also means less manual and rather more electronic intervention as no crossings will be left unmanned by 2020.
- In 2017-18, 3,500 kms of railway lines will be commissioned against 2,800 kms commissioned in 2016-17. Dedicated trains for tourism and pilgrimage will also be planned.
- Introduction of a single window interface – ‘Coach Mitra’ to act as a single window interface for the registration of all coach related complaints.
- Implementation of Bio Toilets in all Railway Coaches by 2019 along with the setting up of 5 more solid waste management plants in addition to the ones in New Delhi and Jaipur Railways Station.
- To make the railways more competitive and increase its revenue share, 3 steps will be taken:
- Implementation of end to end integrated transport solutions for select commodities by partnering logistics players.
- Withdrawal of service charge on e-tickets booked through IRCTC where cashless reservations have gone up by 10% to 68%.
- Accrual based financial statements will be rolled out by March 2019 – (expenses are matched with the related revenues and/or are reported when the expense occurs, not when the cash is paid).
- Initiation of a new Metro Rail Act to focus on innovative models of implementation and rationalization of finances.
- A Centralised Defence Travel System for tickets bookings by soldiers and officers so that they do not have to queue up with railway warrants.
Finally the government will list the shares of Railway PSEs like IRCTC, IRFC and IRCON in the stock exchanges.