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New Delhi : Indian Railways has now highest ever total Plan capex of Rs  2,15,058 Crores this year with Rs. 7,500 Crore from internal resources, Rs 1,00,258 Crore from extra budgetary resources, and Rs. 1,07,100 Crore as capital expenditure allocation given in the General Budget.

Indian Railways received a record outlay of  Rs 1,10,055 crore, of which Rs  1,07,100 crore is for capital expenditure in the Union Budget 2021-22 presented  in the Parliament on February 1, 2021, according to a PIB release.

The Gross Budgetary allocation is Rs. 37,050 cr (53%) higher than BE 2020-21. Inspite of the covid, this is remarkable vindication of the progress of Infrastructure projects in Indian Railways.

With this increase in Capex, Indian Railways will be the driver of Indian economy. The thrust of Annual Plan 2021-22 is on infrastructure development, throughput enhancement, development of terminal facilities, augmentation of speed of trains, signaling systems, improvement of passengers/users’ amenities, safety works of road over/under bridges etc.

National Projects of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and North Eastern region have been allocated highest ever outlay of Rs 12,985 crore. in BE 21-22 against the RE 20-21 of Rs 7,535 crore i.e. increase of 72%.

Intense monitoring, better management and engagement with all the stakeholders  is ensuring that work is going on at unprecedented speed at the project sites now. Some projects to be commissioned by March 2021 are Redevelopment of Gandhinagar & Habibganj stations, Ahmedabad – Botad Gauge Conversion (170 km), Pilibhit – Shahjahanpur Gauge Conversion (83 km), Utretia – Raebarelli Doubling (66 km), Ghazipur-Aunihar Doubling (40 km), Ajmer – Bengurgram Doubling ( 47 km), and Nirmali – Sairagarh New Line including Kosi bridge (22 km).

Key Railway Electrification projects that are also expected to be completed by March 2021 include: Mumbai – Abu Road, Mumbai – Ratnagiri, Howrah-New Cooch Behar section via Malda, Connectivity to Pipava Port, Ratlam/Mathura-Jaipur, and Pune – Satara, Sonipat –Jind.

Last Financial year, Indian Railways faced unprecedented Covid related challenges. Passenger services had to be stopped to prevent the spread of the virus. Indian Railways, however, kept the national supply chain running and moved great number of migrants in the most adverse conditions.

The lockdown period was used as an opportunity by the Railways to complete more than 200 critical maintenance projects including massive track maintenance exercise, overhauling the freight business, and fast tracking of the ongoing infrastructure projects like Dedicated Freight Corridors, J&K and North-East connectivity etc.

In the post lockdown phase, remarkable revival in IR’s freight loading has been observed especially in the last 5 months, which shows the economic revival in the country as well as modal shift to Railways. This is due to doubling of average speed of freight trains from 23 kmph to 46 kmph, various tariff and non-tariff measures, as well as a first time ever “Freight Business Development Portal” for online booking of freight. The year is likely to close with higher loading over last year. It may be noted that Indian Railways has prepared a National Rail Plan (NRP) for  India-2030.

In the budget, it was announced that Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) and Eastern DFC are expected to be commissioned by June 2022.

While focusing on Passenger Convenience and Safety, the budget has also proposed Introduction of the aesthetically designed Vista Dome LHB coach on tourist routes to give a better travel experience to passengers and provision  of  indigenously developed automatic train protection on High density network and highly utilised network routes of Indian railways. This system minimises the possibility of train collision due to human error.