New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his Union Budget 2018 speech, announced a capital expenditure of Rs 1.48 lakh crore for the expansion and modernisation of the Indian Railways on Thursday.
''Strengthening the railway network and enhancing Indian Railways’ carrying capacity has been a major focus of the Government. Railways’ Capex for the year 2018-19 has been pegged at Rs 1,48,528 crore, '' the FM said.
Addressing the lawmakers, FM Jaitley said that ''most of this money will be spent on capacity expansion'' while also stating that this remains one of the most important priorities for Indian Railways right now.
The Finance Minister also set a target of doubling 18,000 km of lines and said that gauge conversion is currently underway to eliminate capacity constraints.
Outlining the other priorities of the Narendra Modi government for the improvement of Indian Railways, FM Jaitley highlighted that new world-class train sets are being manufactured, dedicated freight corridors are coming up and electrification is being taken up as a priority task.
Indian Railways is expected to explore other avenues to raise funding for its ambitious projects, such as conversion to broad gauge and signalling automation and electrification, FM Jaitely said as part of his Union Budget speech in Parliament.
While stating that the safety of passengers remains a top priority for the government, Arun Jaitley said that all railways stations and trains will have Wi-Fi and CCTVs progressively.
''Wi-fi and CCTVs will be progressively provided in all trains and there will be escalators at stations with 25,000- plus footfall,'' the FM said.
''From the focus on the modernisation of signalling, use of fog safety devices to focus on better passenger amenities and safety, Rail Budget 2018 has laid out a road-map for Indian Railways of the future,'' the FM said.
The minister also pointed out that 600 stations have been earmarked for modernisation by the railways.
The focus will also be on a suburban rail network in Mumbai and Bangalore, he added.