Indian Railway

Railway Budget 2024 Soars by 25%, Achieving Unprecedented Heights, Record-Breaking Ascent

Indian railway budget for 2024-25 holds immense promise for the future of Indian Railways.

In a significant move towards transforming the Indian Railway, the upcoming budget for 2024-25 is poised to witness a remarkable surge in capital expenditure (capex), expected to rise by approximately 25% from the budget estimate of the previous fiscal year. The government’s strategic focus on modernizing and enhancing the national transporter’s capabilities, including the introduction of advanced trains, improved safety features, and long-term infrastructure projects, is set to propel the budgetary allocation for the Indian Railways to unprecedented levels.

Sources familiar with the matter disclosed that the envisaged increase in capex would elevate the budgetary allocation to a staggering figure surpassing ₹3 lakh crore in the fiscal year 2024-25. This surge in capital expenditure aligns with the railway ministry’s aspirations to bolster long-term infrastructure projects, such as freight corridors and high-speed trains, alongside the comprehensive modernization of the Indian Railway fleet, incorporating state-of-the-art trains, wagons, and locomotives.

The intensified capex will also contribute to the introduction of 300-400 Vande Bharat trains in diverse formats, including those equipped with sleeper coaches. Additionally, there is a concerted effort towards overhauling the signaling systems, a crucial element in enhancing operational efficiency and safety within the railway network.

A notable aspect of the budgetary allocation is the substantial doubling of the safety budget for the railways, a move aimed at expediting the realization of the ambitious Mission Zero Accidents. The safety budget, which remained static for the past two years at around ₹11,000 crore, is poised to experience a significant boost to address critical safety enhancements across the Indian Railway infrastructure.

Subodh Jain, a former member of the Indian Railway Board, emphasized the imperative need for a higher plan capex allocation for the Indian Railways, particularly as the national transporter embarks on crucial infrastructure projects. He noted the government’s substantial support in terms of over a 50% increase in gross budgetary support in the previous fiscal year, with expectations of continued robust support in the upcoming budget.

In the 2022-23 budget, the total capital allocation for Indian Railways stood at around ₹2.45 lakh crore, with the Centre’s gross budgetary support amounting to approximately ₹1.6 lakh crore. The subsequent fiscal year witnessed a significant increase, with the gross budgetary support swelling to ₹2.4 lakh crore in 2023-24, corresponding to a total capital allocation of ₹2.6 trillion for the Indian Railway .

 Indian Railway
Indian Railway

The prevailing expectation is that a substantial portion of the capital allocation in the budget for 2024-25, exceeding 90%, would be facilitated through the government’s gross budgetary support. This form of financial support has become increasingly pivotal in funding crucial infrastructure sectors, including Indian Railway , leveraging the government’s ability to secure favorable borrowing rates from the market.

The evolving trend in gross budgetary support for  Railways reflects a strategic shift towards prioritizing capital expenditure over revenue expenditure. In recent years, the focus has been on supporting the Indian Railway ‘ capex, culminating in a steady increase in gross budgetary support, reaching ₹1.17 lakh crore in 2021-22 from ₹70,250 crore in 2020-21, ₹69,967 crore in 2019-20, and ₹55,088 crore in 2018-19.

Insiders familiar with the government’s perspective suggest that a significant portion of the heightened gross budgetary support in the upcoming budget may be allocated to the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project. The ambitious high-speed rail project, progressing at a brisk pace for both Gujarat and Maharashtra tracks, signifies the government’s commitment to advancing transformative infrastructure initiatives.

The anticipated surge in the Railway budget for 2024-25 underscores the government’s unwavering commitment to revolutionizing Indian Railways through strategic investments. The substantial increase in capex reflects a forward-looking approach, focusing on modernization, safety enhancements, and the execution of long-term infrastructure projects. As the railway budget takes center stage, it heralds a new era for Indian Railways, embodying the government’s dedication to fostering robust and efficient railway infrastructure for the nation’s benefit.

The surge in capital expenditure for Indian Railways in the upcoming budget not only marks a financial commitment but also underscores a broader vision for the future of rail transportation in the country. The substantial increase in budgetary allocation reflects a recognition of the pivotal role that Indian Railways plays in the nation’s connectivity, economic growth, and sustainability objectives.

 Indian Railway
Indian Railway

As the government gears up to propel Indian Railways into a new era, the intensified capex is expected to have far-reaching implications. The infusion of funds into long-term infrastructure projects, such as freight corridors and high-speed trains, will contribute to the creation of a more robust and efficient Indian Railway network. The embrace of modern technology, with the introduction of advanced trains, revamped signaling systems, and a comprehensive fleet overhaul, signals a commitment to meeting the evolving needs of passengers and freight transportation.

The ambitious goal of introducing 300-400 Vande Bharat trains in various formats, including sleeper coaches, aligns with the broader vision of enhancing the travel experience and increasing the capacity of the  network. These initiatives, coupled with safety enhancements, reflect a holistic approach to transforming Indian Railways into a safer, more efficient, and technologically advanced mode of transportation.

 Indian Railway
Indian Railway

The doubling of the safety budget is a significant step towards realizing the ambitious Mission Zero Accidents. This signals a proactive stance in addressing safety concerns and investing in the necessary upgrades and improvements to ensure a secure and accident-free railway network. The commitment to safety is paramount, given the scale and complexity of the Indian Railways network.

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