All eyes are on Union finance minister Arun Jaitley as he prepares to present the last full-fledged Union Budget on Thursday amid expectations that it will contain dramatic announcements to boost a favourable economic and political narrative before the crucial Assembly elections in eight states in 2018 and the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
Arun Jaitley said that 18,000 km of doubling, third and fourth line works and 5,000 kilometers of gauge conversion would augment capacity and transform nearly the entire network into broad gauge.
In the 2018-19 Budget, Rs 10 crore has also been given to the AAP government for paying enhanced compensation to the 1984 riot victims though the amount was Rs 15 crore in the 2017-18 Budget. Ltd. and declared that all stations with over 25,000 footfall per day would be provided with escalators. Besides, 4,267 unmanned level crossings in the broad gauge network would be removed over the next two years to eliminate possibility of road-rail collisions.
Laying out a roadmap for the Indian Railways, Jaitley said the focus would be on modernisation of signalling, use of fog safety devices, better passenger amenities and safety in the coming year.
"Over ₹1.48 lakh crore to be allocated for railways in next fiscal", Jaitley said. He also added that 600 railway stations across the country have been picked for modernisation.
One of the highlights of the infrastructure sector push, he said, was that through the online monitoring system of PRAGATI alone, projects worth Rs 9.46 lakh crore had been facilitated and fast-tracked.
In addition, a new institute is to come up at Vadodara to train manpower for high-speed rail networks.