Made part of Union Budget last year, Railways remains a key sector and its budget will be presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 1 once again. Historically, Railway Budget was presented separate from the main Budget but even though all of that changed in 2017, it is once again expected to attract maximum attention.
The Economic Survey released on January 29 commended the government for 'transformative' steps taken in the Railway sector. It said giving priority to high-speed rail, last-mile linkages and dedicated freight corridors were steps in the right direction. It is expected that these would get a further boost in the Union Budget.
Here is the list of expectation from infra sector:
1. Increase investment by 10-15 percent in roads from 2017/18 budget
2. Provide support for key road projects, including Bharatmala project, which will connect western and eastern India
3. Increase railways investments by 10 pct from 2017/18 budget
Safety is of prime concern as there were a number of rail accidents. In the first few months of FY 2017 itself, as many as 48 died and another 188 injured in 48 train accidents. Therefore, safety is indeed likely to get the maximum attention in the Union Budget as well. The major expectation would be of better precautionary measures in place, improved infrastructure - both of trains and at the station, better facilities and better and technologically advanced warning systems.
The Indian Railways is already planning to use GPS based navigation systems to reduce delays and accidents caused by fog. It also plans to deploy drones for better track-tracking and crowd management at stations. Allocations in these areas can further bolster the world's largest railway network.
However, Railway Minister Piyush Goel had last year said that he is looking at innovative means of revenue generation to reduce dependence on Union Budget.