New Delhi| Total capital and development expenditure on the Indian Railways during the next fiscal has been pegged at Rs 1,31,000 crore, with a little less than half to be provided by the government, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in his budget presentation on Wednesday.
"For 2017-18, the total capital and development expenditure of Railways has been pegged at Rs 1,31,000 crore. This includes Rs 55,000 crore provided by the government," Jaitley said presenting the Union Budget 2017-18, which for the first time in 93 years merges the erstwhile Railway Budget with the general budget.
"This decision (to merge budgets) brings the Railways to the centrestage of government's fiscal policy and would facilitate multi-modal transport planning between railways, highways and inland waterways," he said.
"The functional autonomy of Railways will, however, continue," he added.
The Finance Minister spelt out the four main focus areas for the Railways in the budget as being "passenger safety, capital and development works, cleanliness, and finance and accounting reforms."
He also announced a Rail safety fund -- Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh -- which will be created with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of five years. As part of accounting reforms, accrual based financial statements will be rolled out by March 2019, he added.
The service charge on Railway tickets booked through IRCTC will be withdrawn. Jaitley also said dedicated trains would be launched for pilgrimage and tourism travel. Moreover, a new Metro Rail policy will be announced, which is expected to open up new jobs for the youths.
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