India unveils an increased railway budget

India’s Minister of Finance, Nirmala Sitharaman, announced a Rs 72,216 crore (USD 10.15 billion) for the Ministry of Railways under the 2020-2021 budget. This allocation represents a 6% increase compared to the previous budget, that had a value of Rs 68,019 crore (USD 9.5 billion).

Within the next period, Indian Railways will set up a Kisan Rail through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model to build a seamless national cold supply chain for perishables goods and to provide refrigerated coaches for the express freight trains.

As the authorities are focused on railway privatization, through PPP model, the it was proposed a four-station projects and the operation of 150 passenger trains. “The process of inviting private participation is underway. More Tejas type trains [express services] will connect iconic tourist destinations,” the minister of Finance said. The Mumbai – Ahmedabad high speed railway project will be also “actively pursued”.

Under the budget, Rs 18600 crore (USD 2.6 billion) will be allotted for the development of Bengaluru suburban transport project. The Central Government will cover 20% of the costs, while will facilitate external assistance for up to 60% of the project cost.

The budget will also fund the Wi-Fi installation at 550 railway stations.

Indian Railways aims to achieve electrification of 27,000 km of tracks, of which 6,000 km will be commissioned until 2021, which will allow an 8% reduction in diesel oil consumption.

Under the 2020-2021 budget, 500 km of new lines will be constructed, works will be performed for gauge conversion of 600 km of lines, 4,000 km of tracks will be renewed, and 2,650 km of single tracks will be doubled, which will allow more freight and passenger services on the congested routes.

Indian Railways will purchase 725 electric multiple units, 4079 LHB and ICF passenger cars and 80 track machines.

The plans include the installation of new and modern signalling systems at 310 railway stations and 250 level crossings will be equipped with interlocking system which will offer safe transport operations.

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