Written byKrunali Shah ·
After declaring that infrastructure is important for economic growth, FM Arun Jaitley made an all-time high allocation to Indian Railways.
Considering the high number of accidents in the past year, he reiterated that "safety first" is the NDA government's single-minded motto.
For this, he cited the 'Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh,' a safety fund used for track improvement, human resource development etc.
Jaitley pegged the capital expenditure of Railways at a whopping Rs. 1.48 lakh crore, mainly for capacity creation.
He added that the government plans to double 18,000 km of lines and undertake gauge conversion to eliminate capacity issues.
Further, new procurements are underway in full swing: 12,000 wagons, 5,160 coaches and 700 locomotives.
He also highlighted that dedicated freight corridors are coming up.
Jaitley also spoke about the ambitious bullet train project, whose foundation was laid in September'17. This partly-Japanese funded bullet train will run at an average speed of 320km/hour.
FM stated that an institute is coming up in Vadodara to train manpower for high-speed railway projects.
Further, he announced plans to manufacture modern train-sets at Chennai's Integral Coach factory; these will be launched in 2019.
In a big cheer for passengers, government is working towards making all railway stations and trains "free Wi-Fi" zones. To ensure safety, CCTVs will be progressively installed. Moreover, railway stations with over 25,000 footfall will have escalators. Other state-of-the-art passenger amenities will also be provided.
Jaitley claimed that 600 railway stations' redevelopment has begun.
Further, regarding expansion, government plans to add 90kms of tracks to Mumbai's local train network, at Rs. 11,000cr. This will be a relief to Mumbaikars, who are accustomed to overcrowded/delayed train service.
Further, at Rs. 17,000cr, government is planning a 160km suburban network for Bengaluru.
Additionally, Pune-Lonavala will soon get two more railway lines.
Illuminating on plans to enhance safety, Jaitley announced that 4,267 unmanned railway crossings will be eliminated in the next two years. Moreover, funds will be set aside for maintaining railway tracks and increasing technology use and fog safety devices. "Optimal electrification" is also a priority.
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