In the first ever merged budget for the Railways, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the government’s priority was on passenger safety, cleanliness and finance and accounting reforms.
"This decision (to merge budgets) brings the Railways to the centrestage of government's fiscal policy and would facilitate multi-modal transport planning between railways, highways and inland waterways," Jaitley said.
"The functional autonomy of Railways will, however, continue," he ad
Jaitley announced the creation of a Railway Safety Fund of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of five years while presenting the Union Budget 2017-18 on Wednesday.
He also said that Railways will get Rs 1,31,000 crore for capital expenditure and development expenditure in the coming year.
The Finance Minister also said that Railways will eliminate all the unmanned level crossings by 2020.
Taking the Swachch Bharat scheme for the Railways forward, the Finance Minister has also announced a SMS scheme for keeping coaches clean. "A SMS based service has been started named 'Clean My Coach' by the Railways. And all the trains would be fitted with bio-toilets by 2019."
Jaitley also said dedicated trains would be launched for pilgrimage and tourism travel.
Moreover, a new Metro Rail policy will be announced, which is expected to open up new jobs for the youths.
He also announced that 500 stations will be made disabled-friendly, with elevators and escalators. Addressing the issue of online booking, Jaitley announced that ticket bookings through IRCTC will not attract service charge.
The budget also mentions dedicated trains for pilgrimage and tourism. Apart from this, the Finance Minister also said that the Railways will develop 25 selected stations this year.
"About 3,500 km of railway track would be laid down in this financial year," Jaitley said, against 2,800 km in 2016-17