The railways got a budgetary allocation of Rs 70,000 crore and an outlay for capital expenditure amounting to Rs 1.61 trillion, a paltry 3 per cent more than the previous year, from Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the budget for 2020-21 presented on Saturday.
In 2019-2020, the capital expenditure (RE) was Rs 1.56 trillion, which was 17.2 per cent more than the capex of 2018-2019.
The total receipts of the railways comprising earnings from passenger, goods, sundry other heads and railway recruitment boards are targeted to increase by 9.5 per cent in the Budget Estimates (BE) of 2020-21 over the Revised Estimates (RE) of 2019-20.
In the 2020-21 budget, funds of Rs 12,000 crore have been allocated for construction of new lines, Rs 2,250 crore for gauge conversion, Rs 700 crore for doubling, Rs 5,786.97 crore for rolling stock and Rs 1,650 crore for signalling and telecom.
The allocation for rail passenger comfort this fiscal is Rs 2,725.63 crore.
The budget also proposed freight loading at 1,265 MT, which is 42 MT (3.4 per cent) incremental over RE 2019-20.
Revenue receipts amounting to Rs 61,000 crore through passenger earnings and Rs 1,47,000 crore in goods earnings have been envisaged in the coming financial year.
The gross traffic receipts are thus kept at Rs 2,25,613 crore. This is 9.6 per cent above RE 2019-20.
The operating ratio, which was envisaged to be 95 per cent in BE 2019-20 and revised to 97.46 per cent in RE 2019-2020, now stands at 96.2 per cent in BE 2020-21.
The budget also proposed setting up of a large solar power capacity alongside the rail tracks on land owned by the railways.
Redevelopment of four stations and operation of 150 passenger trains would be done through the public-private-partnership (PPP) mode.
It also announced introduction of more Tejas type trains which will connect iconic tourist destinations.
The finance minister proposed a 148-km-long Bengaluru suburban transport project at a cost of Rs 18,600 crore, which would have fares on the metro model. The Centre would provide 20 per cent of equity and facilitate external assistance of up to 60 per cent of the project cost.
With an aim to build a seamless national cold supply chain for "perishables", Sitharaman also proposed setting up of a "Krishi Rail" through PPP arrangements. There will be refrigerated coaches in express and freight trains as well, she said.
However, what will remain a major headache of the railways is the revenue expenditure, which includes an estimated salary payout of Rs 92,993.07 crore, about Rs 6,000 crore more than last year.