Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February presented the much-awaited Union Budget 2017 and asserted that service charges on railway tickets booked online through IRCTC will be withdrawn. He added that online bookings have gone up from 58% to 68% since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation drive.

The Finance Minister asserted that the rail safety fund with corpus of Rs 100,000 crore will be created over a period of 5 years adding that a new metro rail policy will be announced which will open up new jobs for the youth.

While presenting the budget, the Finance Minister affirmed that at least 25 stations are expected to be awarded during 2017-18. Additionally, 500 stations are to be made differently abled-friendly by providing lifts & escalators.

It is for the first time in the history, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget as well as Rail Budget 2017 together in the Parliament at 11 am on February 1. Earlier, the budget was usually presented on the last business day of the month of February.

Earlier in the day, there was speculations that the Budget will be postponed for a day following the demise of Senior Kerala MP, E. Ahamed, who on Tuesday suffered a heart attack and collapsed in Parliament’s Central Hall.

The decision to advance the date of budget presentation to February 1 was taken with an aim to complete the entire process before the end of financial year. However, there was a lot of criticism from opposition parties who alleged that the decision was taken to benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in five states. The BJP though has claimed that the economic growth of the nation cannot be put on hold just because some states are going to polls.