Railways found an important mention in Union Budget 2020-21 presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday. She mentioned that the government had commissioned 550 WiFi facilities at many Railway stations after coming back to power in May 2019. Revealing that all unmanned crossings had been eliminated, she announced that the government wanted to ensure the electrification of 27,000 km of tracks. Along with this, Sitharaman revealed that a proposal to set up solar power capacity alongside the Railways was under consideration.
Nirmala Sitharaman observed, “Within 100 days of assumption of this government, it has commissioned 550 WiFi facilities at many Railway stations. It has eliminated unmanned level crossings and aims to achieve electrification of 27,000 km of tracks. This will call for optimization of costs. About Indian Railways, there are 5 measures that I wish to highlight. Setting up a large solar power capacity alongside the rail tracks on the land owned by Railways- a proposal is under consideration.”
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister declared that 150 passenger trains would be operated through the Public Private Partnership mode. She added that more trains such as Tejas would be introduced connecting important tourist destinations. Furthermore, Sitharaman unveiled ambitious plans about the Bengaluru Suburban Transport project costing Rs.18,600 crore.
The Union Finance Minister remarked, “4 station redevelopment projects and operation of 150 passenger trains would be done through PPP mode. The process of inviting private participation is underway. More Tejas-like trains will connect iconic tourist destinations. High-speed train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will be actively pursued. 148 km Bengaluru Suburban Transport project at a cost of Rs.18,600 crore would have fares based on Metro model, the Centre would provide 20% of the equity and wants to facilitate external assistance up to 60% of the project cost.”
Sitharaman commenced her speech by stressing that this was a budget to boost the income and enhance purchasing power. She noted that the fundamentals of the economy were strong, inflation had been contained, banks had been cleaned up and formalization of the economy had taken place during the NDA government’s first term in office. Moreover, she talked about the positive impact after the introduction of GST and paid homage to the late Arun Jaitley for his invaluable contribution. Thereafter, she listed the success of government schemes such as PMAY, Ayushmann Bharat, financial inclusion, etc. After this, she began dealing with the three prominent themes of the budget- aspirational India, economic development and caring society.