The Deprecating State Of The Indian Railways- What Ought To Be Done?

Posted on June 7, 2012 in Politics at Play

By Pankaj Khandelwal:

Ever wondered what it would feel like travelling by train at a speed of 200 kmph which most of us experienced through TV while watching grand prix or walking into clean stations and platforms with properly maintained sitting arenas and having all of the basic amenities to cater to the need of the passengers. Wouldn’t it be amazing to reach your destination on time or even earlier than the stipulated time? At first thought it seems like utopia, but it isn’t.

Indian Railways, world’s 4th largest commercial employer running 5000 trains over a route of 65000 km is currently going through its doom days. As said by the unfortunate former railway minister Mr. Dinesh Trivedi in his budgetary speech “Indian Railways are passing through a difficult phase. In the current year, although there were no arrears of Pay Commission to be paid, the impact of allowances and several post-budgetary factors has been very stressful for the finances of the Railways.” Currently working upon the operating ratio of 95 %, it’s high time to revive this mammoth organisation to its original glory.

First and foremost, new ways and venues for revenue generation should be created. With our ‘Didi’ creating pressure and melodrama which succeeded in revoking the marginal increase in the passenger fare, the passenger fare hike seems a distant reality. The possible way can be increasing freight prices which also has a limit. The management can generate revenues by leasing out the coaches to the advertisement agencies as it has a huge potential, as different groups of people travel by train.

With the involvement of private partners in most of the government projects, railways should create more and more projects under PPP initiative. Sole involvement of private players in running of the railways can cause steep hike in the fare, but they can be roped into maintaining station complexes and platforms. PPP projects involving laying of tracks, opening of different rolling stock, wagon manufacturing factories can immensely help our railways. Infrastructure development and improvement is the most important section that should be looked upon. Passenger safety and convenience should be taken care of with a high degree of importance.

Just like the IPO of Coal India Ltd, a government controlled company saw a huge response from the investors and became the largest IPO in the India history, Indian Railways has a similar potential in recreating the history and building up much required capital. Moreover the political control over the railways should be diminished. Most of the ministers open up loss making routes just to create their vote bank which eventually harm the railways in a significant way. Instead Indian Railways, it should be declared a PSU with its own management structure and planning committee.

Lastly, the railway is a national property and it should be our duty as the citizens of India to take care of this precious heritage, otherwise all those happy moments of travelling with our family and friends or having a chai in kulhad will remain memories.

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Vijay

I don’t think PPP is the answer as many constraints are related to it. For example: costs, energy security, freight etc. To come to a holistic solution these issues must be weighed adequately. 

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