Rail Budget 2019-20 bets big on Congestion, Comfort (C2) in Odisha

Odisha to see Rs 5,800-6000 crore for boosting rail network. Rs 180 crore given for improving passenger amenities and 4 new surveys to clear rail congestion

Bhubaneswar: With an emphasis on C2 (Congestion & Comfort), the Rail Budget 2019-20 has allocated over Rs 5,800 crore for the rail infra development in Odisha.

The highlight of this year’s budget is Rs 180 crore for passenger amenities in Odisha and as many as four new surveys to decongest the high congestion experienced in Odisha’s rail routes.

As per the details provided by East Coast Railway authorities, the budget has commissioned four new surveys viz, Raja Athagarh to Kaipadar avoiding Bhubaneswar and Khurda road, flyover at Cuttack for goods train to avoid congestion at Cuttack, a by-pass from Titlagarh-Rahenbata to Sikir and a chord line from Talcher to Angul through colliery to avoid engine reversal at Talcher.

“High congestion routes in Odisha have been the Bhubaneswar – Khurda and Cuttack – Barang sections. The congestion is generally observed in morning and evening hours affecting a delay in movement of trains. EcoR has been demanding such surveys from 2007-08. It’s good that the surveys are commissioned now,” observed a senior EcoR official here.

The rail budget 2019-20 has also laid big emphasis on flyovers, Road Over Bridges (ROB) and Road Under Bridges (RUBs) to eliminate level crossings.

It needs mentioning that at least 42 persons were killed in last 5-years at unmanned level crossings in the State. The EcoR has set the year 2020 to eliminate all unmanned level crossings in Odisha.

As far as allocation to State’s lifeline new line projects are concerned, a highest of Rs 400 crore has been provisioned for 82 km Haridaspur – Paradip new line.  The much delayed 289 km Khurda-Balangir new line project got an allocation of Rs 350 crore. The 98 Km Angul – Sukinda Road sees a provision of Rs 250 crore. Rs 150 crore has been allocated for 154 km Talcher – Bimalagarh.

However, the new line projects of Jeypore – Malkangiri (130km) and 38 Km Jeypore – Nabarangpur have seen meagre allocations of Rs 70 crore and Rs 10 crore, resepctively. Similarly, a token amount was provisioned for the Nuapada – GunpurBG line to Theruvali.

“The higher allocations for rail projects having SPVs is a good strategy by railways. As SPVs raise funds, the railway ministry is obliged to  release its share of funds. And SPVs are formed for projects that are financially viable. It is for this reason Jeypore -Malkangiri and Jeypore – Nabarangpur received lower allocations,” explained a former EcoR DGM.

In order to ramp up the rail route length in the State, the rail budget has allocated a whopping over Rs 1,400 crore for doubling projects. The 174 km Sambalpur – Talcher doubling has been allocated Rs 249 crore. Budapank -Salegaon received Rs 205 crore.

With regard to workshop projects, the budget made a token allocation for Electric engine overhauling workshop at Kalahandi.

“Like last year, the allocation for 2019-20  will be in the range of Rs 5,800 – Rs 6,000 crore. Special power has been given to the zonal railways to develop coach maintenance facilities,” said a EcoR release.