Merged Rail Budget takes safety and reform route ON THE RIGHT TRACK
There weren’t any new trains flagged off from the House. There weren’t any announcements of all-new factories or lofty promises of surveys for new lines.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley meant business in the first Union budget that subsumed the stateowned transporter’s annual financial plan, and he showed it with a focus on reform and safety even as the outlay for the railways hit a high of `1,31,000 crore.
Jaitley announced the creation of a Rashtriya Rail Samraksha Kosh (RRSK) or Rail Safety Fund with a `1 lakh crore corpus. The fund will ensure an annual expenditure of `20,000 crore on safety-related work, including track renewal and signal upgrades.
While the finance minister left passengerfaresunchangedtoavoid any fallout on upcoming state elections, sources in the government said a hike would follow at a later date. Jaitley announced a waiver of the service charge on e-tickets and spoke about a number of steps to improve passenger amenities such as a “Coach Mitra” facility that provides a single window interface for all coach-related requirements or complaints.