Railway Budget 2021 live: New map for future-ready Indian Railways unveiled; highlights

Railway Budget 2021 live: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman spoke of the New Rail Plan that envisages a future-ready Indian Railways by 2030. As part of her Union Budget 2021 speech, Sitharaman announced Rs 1,10,055 crore for Indian Railways. Out of this record sum, Rs 1,07,100 crore is for capital expenditure. Talking about the priorities of Indian Railways, FM spoke of the commissioning of the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors.

According to Sitharaman, the priority is to bring down the logistics cost for industry to promote 'Make in India'. For the same, the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight corridors will be commissioned by June 2022. A few sections of the dedicated freight corridors will be made on Public-Private Partnership mode. She also said that the dedicated freight corridor assets will be monetised for operations and maintainance once the corridors are commissioned.

The Sonnagar–Gomoh Section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor will be taken up in PPP mode in 2021-22. This section is 263.7 kilometres long. Also, the Gomoh-Dankuni section of 274.3 kilometres length will be taken up in short succession.

In future, more dedicated freight corridor projects will be taken up. These are; East Coast corridor from Kharagpur to Vijayawada, East-West Corridor from Bhusaval to Kharagpur to Dankuni and North-South corridor from Itarsi to Vijayawada. Detailed Project Reports for the same will be undertaken in the first phase, Sitharaman said.

Railway Budget 2021 also highlighted the national transporter's plan for 100% electrification of the broad gauge network by December 2023. "Broad Gauge Route Kilometers (RKM) electrified is expected to reach 46,000 RKM i.e., 72% by end of 2021 from 41,548 RKM on 1st Oct 2020," she said.

On the passenger front, Sitharaman said that new Vistadome LHB coaches will be attached to trains on tourist routes to enhance comfort. According to the FM, Indian Railways' safety measures have borne results in the last few years. She said that on high density networks and highly utilised routes an indigenous automatic train protection system would be installed for trains safety. This eliminates train collision due to human error.