Bihar seems to have gained considerably in the allocation for railways in the first integrated Union budget tabled by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday.
From Rs 3171 crore in 2016-17, the allocation for Bihar has been increased to Rs 3696 crore in the fiscal 2017-18, an increase of 16.56%. The average allocation for the state in the rail budget from fiscal 2009-10 to 2013-14 had been Rs 1133 crore.
“Though the details of provisions for railway, including schemes and new ventures, will be tabled in Parliament later, the integrated budget in no way has affected the functional autonomy of the largest public transporter in India,” said DK Gayen, general manager of East Central Railway (ECR).
With headquarters at Hajipur in Bihar, 21 km from Patna, East Central Railway covers maximum train stations in the state. A few stations in the state fall under Eastern Railway, North Eastern Railway and North Eastern Frontier Railway.
Gayen said the emphasis of this year’s budget was safety and security. As per budget provisions, all unmanned railways crossings on broad gauges in the country would be removed by 2020, he said.
“The ECR zone has 1997 railway crossings on broad and metre gauge, of which 560 are unmanned. Thirtythree unmanned level crossings have already been closed and road overbridges (ROBs) have been constructed on three others. Traffic has been diverted from the remaining 524,” he said.
“We have prepared an action plan to close 452 unmanned crossings on broad gauge under the ECR in the next two years. Limited height subway (LHS) will be constructed on 216 of them, 230 will be converted into manned. While traffic will be diverted from three, three others will be closed,” he added.
Gayen said though the exact share of ECR in the Rs 1-crore Rail Safety Fund would only be known later, the fund will be utilized for overdue track renewals, signals, bridges and maintenance of coaches and wagons.
The railways will develop 25 stations through private participation. “In 2017-18, Muzaffarpur, Patna Sahib and Buxar would be developed with private participation,” he said. Private players would be allowed to commercially exploit 4.40 acres of land at Muzaffarpur, 13.97 acres at Buxar, 3.40 acres at Patna Sahib and 2.50 acres at Patna Ghat station. “The selected agencies will provide world-class infrastructure,” added Gayen.
In an effort to make cashless transactions more effective, Gayen said 48 point of sale (POS) machines would be soon provided at 15 Bihar stations. At the moment, 13 Passenger Reservation System (PRS) counters at Patna Junction and two at Danapur station have been equipped with POS. “Soon it will extend to 131 counters at 90 reservation centres,” said the GM.
The ECR will also use solar energy at 54 locations. Gayen said 4.89 MW of electricity generated by solar panels would cover that will cover an area of 58717 square metres.