VIJAYAWADA/VISAKHAPATNAM: Though emphasis was laid on modernisation and passenger safety, the first Railway Budget subsumed in the General Budget 2017-18 presented by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday, could not meet the expectations of people of Andhra Pradesh.
The Finance Minister sanctioned projects worth Rs 3,406 crore for AP in the Railway Budget, which include new trains and funds for new railway lines.
The allocation for Andhra Pradesh raised to Rs 3,406 crore in the Railway Budget for 2017-18 from Rs 2,823 crore in 2016-17. It is almost double the allocation made to Telangana. Both the South Central Railway (SCR) and East Coast Railway (ECoR) serve people of Andhra Pradesh.
The decision to withdraw service charge on e-tickets booked through IRCTC, is likely to benefit around three crore people in SCR and ECoR in Andhra Pradesh. It was pronounced in the budget that by 2019, all train coaches of Indian Railways would be fitted with bio-toilets.
A bio-toilet target of 3,000 was set for 2017-18 in the SCR.
In the current fiscal, 4,138 bio-toilets were fixed in 1,115 coaches during the current fiscal. The proposal to set up lifts and escalators in over 500 railway stations across the country is differently-abled-friendly. The SCR is planning to set up 34 lifts in 20 stations and 16 escalators in 11 stations. As part of the Station Redevelopment, 25 stations, including Secunderabad and Vijayawada are likely to get a facelift in the next fiscal.
However, specific allocations made to AP in the Railway Budget could be known in the next couple of days. Widespread protests took place in Visakhapatnam after the presentation of the Railway Budget as no mention of creation of a separate railway zone was made in it. The separate railway zone is a long cherished dream of people of north coastal Andhra. Staging a protest at the railway station, CPM activists alleged that the BJP-led NDA Government betrayed people of AP, especially of north coastal Andhra.