In a groundbreaking move, the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Interim Union Budget 2024-25 in Parliament. Union Railways Minister, Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw Lauds allocation of Rs. 2,52,000 Crore for capital expenditure for Financial Year 2024-25 for Railways.
Image Credit : PIB
Addressing the media, the Union Minister for Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology, Shri Vaishnaw highlighted the transformative approach under Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s leadership. Unlike the past emphasis on adding trains, the recent strategy prioritises increasing capacity, incorporating new technology, and enhancing safety measures.
As a result of this, in the last ten years 26000 Km track has been added, 1,08,000 Crore has been invested in Safety System and Automatic train protection system (Kavach) has started, new generations of trains are being developed and many of them are already running and are very popular.
Image Credit (representational): ECR
Key Highlights of Interim Budget for Railways:
Rs. 2,52,000 Crore for Capital Expenditure: A substantial investment for the financial year 2024-25 will fuel the expansion and modernization of the railway infrastructure.
Economic Railway Corridors: Implementation of three major economic corridors—energy, mineral, and cement; port connectivity; and high-traffic density corridors—aim to boost efficiency and connectivity.
Image Credit (representational): MoR
Vande Bharat’ Standard Coaches: The budget earmarks the conversion of 40,000 conventional rail bogies to ‘Vande Bharat standards,’ reflecting a commitment to upgrading passenger experience.
In this budget, a big focus has been put on creating additional capacity through three corridors:
- First is Energy, mineral and cement corridors which will help reduce pollution of roads and ensure reduction in cost of logistics.
- Second is port connectivity which will provide seamless connectivity to the ports through railways in a multimodal ‘Gati Shakti’ way and
- Third is ‘Amrit Chaturbhuj’ which will be akin to the golden quadrilateral on the Railway network on high density traffic routes.
Overall, through these 3 corridors, about 40,000 Km of new track will be laid which will significantly increase railway capacity and reduce pollution as railways can save up to 90% CO2 emissions in a cost effective manner. This will bring a big transformation in the country’s economy in an efficient, productive and sustainable manner.
The second big Announcement:
The success of ‘Vande Bharat’ and ‘Amrit Bharat’ trains has led to the fact that now we can upgrade all the 40,000 conventional coaches. The work to increase capacity is happening on multiple fronts. Last year 5,200 km of new tracks were added which is equivalent to the entire rail network of Switzerland.
This year we are adding 5,500 km. From 4 km per day in 2014, we are now adding about 15 km per day in new tracks. With the capital investment envisaged in today’s budget, Rs. 2,52,000 Crore CAPEX SANCTIONED for 2024-25.
Image Credit (representational): MoR
The Railway has already achieved 82% of CAPEX budget by end of January, 2024 which is significant. So, there is a clear focus on increasing capacity, passenger experience and infrastructure. The PM’s focus on Railways is very clear and it is helping bring more capacity and once these 3 corridors are completed we will have enough capacity to end the waiting list problem.
Prime Minister’s Endorsement:
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi praised the Interim Budget as inclusive and innovative, emphasising its continuity and empowerment of key pillars—youth, the poor, women, and farmers. The budget’s announcement to manufacture 40,000 modern ‘Vande Bharat Standard’ coaches aligns with the government’s commitment to enhancing passenger comfort and experience.
In conclusion, the Union Budget for Railways signals a transformative phase, combining substantial capital investment, innovative corridors, and a commitment to sustainable and efficient railway development. The increased focus on capacity expansion and passenger-centric upgrades sets the stage for a promising era in Indian Railways.
Source: PIB- Press Release | Featured Image Credit (representational): PIB