Rlys to focus on safety: Rs 1 lakh cr fund proposed

Rlys to focus on safety: Rs 1 lakh cr fund proposed
Concerned over frequent rail accidents, the government on Wednesday proposed setting up of a special safety fund of Rs 1 lakh crore. This will cover upgradation of tracks, signalling, elimination of unmanned level crossings, introduction of latest technology and training of manpower.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who presented the General Budget 2017-18, said for passenger safety, a Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh will be created with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of 5 years. Out of the Rs 20,000 crore that has to be mobilised for the safety fund, the government will provide Rs 5,000 crore seed capital, while the Railways has to raise the rest from its own resources.

“The government will lay down clear-cut guidelines and timeline for implementing various safety works to be funded from this Kosh,” the minister said in the Budget, adding that unmanned level crossings on broad gauge lines will be eliminated by 2020. The finance minister also announced the plan size for the next fiscal for the Railways at Rs 1,31 lakh crore as against Rs 1.21 lakh crore last year. He also said railway lines stretching 3,500 km will be commissioned in 2017-18, as against 2,800 km in 2016-17.

Besides, steps will be taken to launch dedicated trains for tourism and pilgrimage. The Railways has set up joint ventures with nine state governments. As many as 70 projects have been identified for construction and development.  At least 25 stations are expected to be awarded during 2017-18 for station redevelopment. A total of 500 stations will be made differently-abled friendly by providing lifts and escalators.  

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