Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday announced the withdrawal of service tax on railway tickets booked through IRCTC website. The announcement was made during the Budget 2017 presentation in the Parliament. This is the first time since 1924 when railway budget was presented, after its merger, with the annual budget.
Currently, a tax of Rs 20 is levied on sleeper class tickets and Rs 40 on AC class tickets while transacting via IRCTC website. He also said that all Indian Railways' coaches will be fitted with bio-toilets by 2019.
Giving priority to safety, the Finance Minster said that the government will create a Rail safety fund with corpus of Rs 100,000 crore over a period of five years. He announced total Rs 55000 crore for Railways in Budget 2017.
The Finance Minister said that at least 500 stations will be made differently abled friendly by providing lifts and escalators. He also said that the Railway tariffs to be fixed on the basis of cost, social obligation and competition.
"Railway related state-run companies like Ircon, IRCTC to be listed on stock exchanges," Jaitley said.
Arun Jaitley also outlined some of the challenges India Railways is facing. "Our Focus is on passenger saftey and swachch railways," says Jaitley.
He also said that unmanned level crossings will be eliminated by 2020.
Capital and development expenditure pegged at Rs 1.31 lakh crore for railways in 2017-18 from Budget.
A proposal to redevelop 25 new railway stations in FY18 was also mooted.