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No hike in passenger fare, freight charges as Railways gets highest ever allocation of Rs 1.58 lakh crore

New Delhi | There has been no hike in passenger fare and freight charges in the Interim Budget announced by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday, which also saw the highest ever capital expenditure allocation of Rs 1.58 lakh crore for the national transporter.

With Lok Sabha elections slated to be held in April-May, hikes in fares were not expected. Last year, then finance minister Arun Jaitley had allocated an amount of Rs 1.48 lakh crore for the Railways in his budget.

Goyal, who is also the Railway minister, said so far 2018-2019 has been the safest for the Indian Railways and all unmanned level crossings on the broad gauge network have been completely eliminated.

“Capital expenditure programme of the Railways is at all-time high of Rs 1.58 lakh crore in next financial year. Vande Bharat Express, indigenously developed semi-high speed train, will give Indian passengers world class experience.

“This major leap in wholly developed technology by our engineers will give an impetus to the Make in India programme and create jobs,” he said in his debut budget speech.

The budget estimates under revenue for the year 2019-20 (gross) is Rs 2,72,705.68 crore, recording an increase of Rs 22,854.67 crore over the revised estimates of Rs 2,49,851.01 crore for 2018-19.

In the budget, funds of Rs 7,255 crore have been allocated for construction of new lines, Rs 2,200 crore for gauge conversion, Rs 700 crore for doubling, Rs 6,114.82 crore for rolling stock and Rs 1,750 crore for signalling and telecom.

Goyal also announced that the operating ratio for the current fiscal has improved to 96.2 percent, and in the next financial year the aim will be to lower it to 95 percent. The planned expenditure would be a 148 percent hike from the levels of 2014.

Developing passenger amenities has been allocated a sum of Rs 3,422 crores which is an additional outlay of around Rs 1,000 crore for the comfort of rail users.

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