The substantial increase in allocation, induction of 400 new generation Vande Bharat trains, setting up of 100 cargo terminals and safety enhancement through induction of Kavach among others, are major highlights of the Budget 2022-23.
Railways was allocated Rs 2.46 lakh crore as capital expenditure, out of which Rs 1.37 crore is the gross budgetary support.
In the last Budget, the government had allocated Rs 2.15 lakh crore as Capex out of which Rs 1.07 lakh crore came from gross budgetary support.
The increase in the Capex will give a boost to the infrastructure development resulting in job creation as well as regaining lost share of freight, crucial for the national transporter.
The higher allocation will also speed up electrification and multi-tracking construction in the rail network.
Taking a step towards an engine-less propulsion system for its passenger trains in the future, the Railways has been given the task of manufacturing 400 new generation, and more energy efficient Vande Bharat trains in the next three years.
We already have two Vande Bharat trains in operation. Now we are going a step further for the next version of the Vande Bharat trains to provide more comforts and passenger amenities, said Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in a presser after the presentation of the Budget.
The 400 will be in addition to the 102 Vande Bharat trains that are already in the pipeline. So in a way, there will be over 500 Vande Bharat trains in the Indian rail system to connect every part of the country.
The 400 new trains are mostly going to be made of light-weight aluminium, as opposed to steel, marking a departure from India’s traditional choice of metal for making its coaches. Since aluminium coaches are energy efficient because of light weight, the step is in the direction of energy saving also.
The Railways has also joined hands with the postal department for seamless transportation of parcel goods by rail. Now if one wants to send white goods as a parcel in the train then he or she does not have to go all the way to the station as it can be booked in the nearby post office.
Terming the tie-up with post offices as a "game changer" , Vaishnaw said there are about 800 stations and more than 1 lakh post offices across the country. So from a remote village to distant place, one can book parcel to be transported seamlessly by train.
Continuing its emphasis on increased Capex to boost infrastructure and industry, the Rail Budget which has been merged with the main Budget has scaled up public spending significantly which will go a long way in readying India for the next level of growth.
The development of 100 Cargo terminals over the next 3 years will also improve India’s competitiveness in faster and cleaner logistics and freight movement by rail.
With an eye on farmers, the rail sector will also develop ‘One Station One Product’ which will leverage the local produce carried on the railways.
The development of 100 Cargo terminals will also improve India’s competitiveness in faster and cleaner logistics and freight movement by rail. It will facilitate Exim trade a lot as logistics challenges today are the biggest stumbling blocks. The terminals under the PM Gati Shakti project will help to reduce the logistics cost and time of Indian exports significantly thereby imparting added competitiveness to exports.
The Budget also envisaged introduction of the state-of-the-art KAVACH signalling systems over 2,000 kms of railway network as an accident prevention measure.
Kavach is the upgradation of the Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) which is being implemented on a pilot basis in some sections of the rail network to prevent accidents.
According to the Railways, the Budget has opened wide opportunities for the infrastructure and construction industry, with a clear focus on building a modern and world-class infrastructure for India.
Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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