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Budget 2019 could focus on Railways
National

Budget 2019 could focus on Railways

Agency News

New Delhi, Jan 30: The Budget for 2019-20, which will be presented in the Lok Sabha on February 1, is expected to unveil measures for modernisation of the Railways, besides coming up with steps for boosting infrastructure and additional allocation for safety-related issues.

Though not many expect Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to announce new trains in the Budget, sources say that some new trains could be announced as this will be the last budget of the Modi government before the Lok Sabha polls.

There is an expectation that this budget will announce some steps to make train tickets cheaper and improve infrastructure facilities in key areas like track renewal, electrification and doubling.

Sources indicate that modernisation of more railway stations and better infrastructure facilities could be considered on priority basis in this budget.

The Railway Minister had recently announced to provide four lakh jobs in the next two years, which will for the first time include 10 per cent reservation to Economically Weaker segment among the General category under Railways.

The Minister had announced fresh recruitment of 2,30,000 employees which will be completed in two phases. In addition to it, with the recruitment of 1,51,548 employees which has already been started last year, Railways aims to become biggest sector while providing a total employment of four lakh people.

It is expected that Railways will speed up its work on Bridge Management System which is yet to be commissioned even after a lapse of 11 years as highlighted in a Parliamentary Committee report tabled in Parliament.

The Committee had expressed dissatisfaction over the 'failure of the Railways' to expedite the work on Bridge Management System which is yet to be commissioned even after a lapse of 11 years.

The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament had observed that 710 bridges remained to be completed as on March 2014, even after expiry of prescribed timelines and had recommended the Ministry to set timelines with effective planning and monitoring.

The Committee was not satisfied with the explanation offered in this regard that depending upon the quantum of work involved, bridge rehabilitation may take from few months up to few years and sometime delay occurs due to complexities of the work involved, which are beyond the control of Railway administration.

“We are planning to increase this momentum so far as improving the infrastructure is concerned. In the last one year, track renewal, electrification and doubling were at their highest,” said sources.

Safety continues to be the foremost priority of Railways and is accorded the greatest consideration.

During 2018, Railways had launched four safety drives on all Zonal Railways with a view to preventing accidents and strengthening safety in trains.

As a result of relentless efforts put in by Railways, consequential train accidents decreased from 104 to 73 during 2017-18 in comparison to the corresponding period of the previous year.

In 2018-19 (from April 1, 2018 to November 30, 2018) consequential train accidents decreased further from 51 to 44 in comparison to the corresponding period of the previous year.

On April 13, 2018, all zonal railways were advised to launch a one month safety drive particularly focusing on strict observance of shunting practices with compliance of rules/instructions contained in G&SR.

On October 16, 2018, zonal Railways were advised to launch a special safety drive for a period of fifteen days with special emphasis on safety of work sites, stacking and handling of railway material near track and maintenance of points and crossings.

The brand new Train 18, which was recently named as 'Vande Bharat Express' by Mr Goyal, is a 'train with a brain' built from the scratch by Integral Coach Factory at a cost which is said to be half the price of a similar imported passenger train.

The most modern train set has been built at a cost of Rs 100 crore and the Railways has expressed its desire to present it in the international arena, sources in the Railways said.

It may represent Indian Railways' modern and affordable technology abroad because of which it could come up with such a milestone at ICF near Chennai.

Railways did a great work by eliminating level crossings as 3,478 unmanned level crossings gates have been eliminated during 2018. In effect, all unmanned level crossings on broad gauge over Indian Railway have been eliminated except one. This will also be eliminated in the current financial year.

Out of 16, total 15 Zonal Railways are now unmanned level crossing free on broad gauge, accidents on unmanned level crossings have reduced from 20 in 2017-18 to 3 in the current year up to December 2018.

The year 2018 saw improved sleepers and fittings. In order to strengthen track structure, a wider and heavier sleeper has been developed in 2014 which is fit for 25 t axle load at 100 kmph. After successful field trial over five Zonal Railways wider and heavier sleeper has been adopted and approved for full use from FY 2019-20.

This is done in a record time of three years from drawing board to insertion in field for trial against normal period of eight-ten years. (UNI)