Budget 2020

Budget calls for more private investment in rail sector, with focus on completion of projects

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on July 05, 2019 Published on July 05, 2019

A focus on completing rail-based projects – like freight corridors and urban transportation – with more private participation for getting funds to improve the capacity was flagged by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her first budget speech. To promote ease of living, railway station modernisation will be launched as a “massive programme”, the Finance Minister added.

Given that fund requirement to develop the Indian Railways are too huge to be met by government, public private partnership in various areas of railways like rolling stock, among others, will have to stressed upon, she added. Railways will require Rs 50 lakh crore over a 12 year period of between 2018-2030, she said adding that the Indian Railways requires almost Rs 1.5 lakh crore every year. It will take decades to complete all sanctioned projects, the Finance Minister admitted.

Dedicated rail freight corridor -- a rail project that is expected to make available much needed network capacity for freight movement on railways -- is expected to get the much desired push required for faster completion made it to the first few paras of the budget speech of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. As of now, two freight corridors are being constructed – the Western corridor between Delhi and JN Port near Mumbai, and Eastern corridor between Delhi and Howrah -- with funding from Japan and World Bank respectively.

Completing rail-based metro projects in various cities through public private partnership and transit oriented development was another area. Transit oriented development is a method where the land along metro tracks are commercially developed and funds re-routed to developing and operating the metro rail system. Railways to be encouraged to invest in urban transportation systems, through tie-ups—like the Regional Rapid Transit System between Delhi and Meerut, Sitharaman said.

Continuation of disinvestment of public sector enterprises, and monetisation of land of public enterprises will be a focus. She also announced steps to increase the availability of long term funds for infrastructure, and increase the road and infrastructure cess by a rupee to fund all these. 

Published on July 05, 2019
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