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Liberalize the railways

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The Indian railway system continues to be in a crisis since it has kept the winds of liberalization at bay, said Lok Satta Party President Dr Jayaprakash Narayan said here today. When Delhi let go its stranglehold on airports and sea ports and permitted States to promote them, the country has witnessed a dramatic growth in the two sectors.

Loss to the nation
Commenting on the railway budget presented by Ms. Mamata Banerjee, Dr. JP said the railways’ failure to be the lifeline of the economy has resulted in the road sector overtaking the railways in goods movement. The railways which once carried 80 percent of the cargo now handled only 20 percent. Neither the NDA Government nor the UPA Government has taken cognizance of the enormous losses the nation is put to because of road transport. Road traffic resulted in regular accidents and huge loss of life, involved huge expenditure, warranted fuel imports, caused pollution and wear and tear of roads.

Dr. JP also suggested that each zonal railway be given total autonomy and treated as an independent profit center. The South Central Railway earned a daily profit of Rs.5 crore while the Eastern Railway incurred a daily loss of Rs.6 crore. For want of autonomy, the SC Railway has not been able to address the pressing needs of people in the region whereas thanks to political patronage the Eastern Railway continued to bag many projects.

Dr JP welcomed the Railway Minister’s proposal to encourage railway development under the public-private partnership mode since there is no alternative. A white paper published by the Railways has estimated that it has to invest Rs.14 lakh crore in the next 10 years on construction of new lines, acquisition of rolling stock etc. There is no way in which the railways can raise such resources and become the country’s lifeline.

For instance, the 13 projects under construction in Andhra Pradesh call for an investment of Rs.3600 crore, not to talk of the new lines proposed in the current budget. The budget allocated a total of Rs.4300 crore for the entire country for construction of 1000 km of lines in the coming financial year. At this rate, completion of the projects already taken up will take a decade or two.

Dr. JP disclosed that Andhra Pradesh accounted for 5500 km of the total 36000 km of railway lines already surveyed but there is no prospect of the lines materializing in the near future. An autonomous SC Railway, for instance, could complete them in a few years because it can raise loans to match its Rs.2000 crore annual profit.

Unviable services
Again, the Union Railway Minister sought to please MPs by introducing a large number of passenger train services unmindful of the huge losses in running them. The railways should focus on long-distance travel with express services and leave short distance travel to the road sector.

For the full text of the report, click here

Can't agree more, Muralidhar Rao


idontspam's picture

Selective amnesia

140 users have liked.

Again, the Union Railway Minister sought to please MPs by introducing a large number of passenger train services unmindful of the huge losses in running them

And what is the excuse given for not getting Bangalore a CRS? It is not profitable

s_yajaman's picture

CRS does not bring enough votes

146 users have liked.

That (vote bank politics) is the other driver for train (pun not intended) services.  And which is why they don;t want to let go of it. 

Please remember this saying from Upton Sinclair - "It is very hard to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon not understanding it".  Repeat after me...:)

It explains lots of seemingly idiotic things.


Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

Naveen's picture

Buying votes through railways must be stopped

153 users have liked.

The practice of using railways to appeal to voters has been going on for far too long & no doubt it needs to be halted forthwith.

This would call for something like unzipping the telecom /insurance sectors - even harder.

vlnarayan's picture

Southern Railway hopeful of getting additional funds?

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According to a senior Southern Railway official, Funds will not be a constraint for ongoing railway projects for that State and Southern Railway will get additional funds as and when required. In the current financial year also initial allotment for various gauge conversion projects was only Rs.238 crore. Ultimately, based on the progress of projects, the zone got a total allotment of Rs.512 crore, which was more than double the initial allotment.

Nothing against Southern railways or the particular state but what wrong did karnataka state or SWR do to get the step motherly treatment from the Centre. Its sheer political weight/lobby, Karnataka MP's are really waste/worst and always think of their petty politics. Prime example is the curent MoS Muniyappa and the other MoS Ahmed. It clearly shows the difference. Muniyappa Please wake up.

santoshfs's picture

Update on PPP projects

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 hi all,

Some good news on PPP projects.

Rlys to cap PPP projects at Rs 148 cr to cut red tape

Mumbai roadshow attracts PPP for railway projects

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