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Why Indian Railways' finances are in a mess

Last updated on: April 27, 2012 10:11 IST

Why Indian Railways' finances are in a mess

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Attributing the poor financial condition of Railways to the Sixth Pay Commission and downturn in economy, Railway Minister Mukul Roy on Thursday sought adequate budgetary support for meeting objectives like efficiency and safety.

A time-bound plan was underway to eliminate all unmanned railway crossings across the country, he said winding up a discussion in the Lok Sabha on the Demand for Grants for 2012-13 for his ministry.

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Image: President Pratibha Patil administers the oath to Mukul Roy as new Railway Minister at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

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Roy said his endeavour would be to generate more revenue for Railways through advertising, use of vacant land and commercial utilisation of railway stations.

The Lok Sabha then passed the Demands for Grants for Railways by voice vote.

Rejecting a demand by members, Roy said he was not in favour of setting up Rail Tariff Regulatory Authority, a proposal mooted by his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi.

Admitting the problem of overcrowding in suburban trains, Roy said steps are being taken to strengthen suburban train service in Mumbai, Howrah, Sealdah and Chennai by providing more trains.

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Image: A girl peers out from a carriage at Nizamuddin Railway Station.
Photographs: Getty Images

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Highlighting the importance of linking remote and tribal areas with rail network, he said though some routes are not financially viable, the Ministry is committed to provide rail link for the economic development of those areas.

Seeking more funds, Roy requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to provide additional allocation to meet the rising demands of the Railways to achieve efficiency and provide more safety.

He said as a result of the implementation of 6th Pay Commission recommendations and economic downturn, the Railways was facing financial crunch.

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Image: Workers load mail onto a train.
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

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Blaming road users for a majority of accidents at level crossings, Roy said Railways was duty bound to reduce such cases.

He said while there were over 20,000 unmanned crossings in 1995, the number has been brought down to 13,471.

Similarly, the number of manned crossings have gone up from 15,436 in 1995 to 18,315 now.

Roy said the main thrust would be on construction of road overbridges and underbridges at the unmanned crossings to put a brake on accidents at such places.

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Image: Railway labourers repair a railway track after it was damaged by protesters at Ghagwal.
Photographs: Amit Gupta/Reuters
Tags: Roy

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He said a new railway catering policy is being implemented and hooped the catering services will improve at railway stations and in trains.

The minister said a recruitment drive is on to fill 140,000 posts, including those under safety category, in the railways.

The process to fill up 12,000 posts in Railway Protection Force was also gathering momentum, he said.     

Referring to the fire near Kurla railway station in Mumbai which led to chaotic scenes, he said the Railways now proposes to switch to alternate current traction system from the present direct current traction.

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Image: A man peers from a carriage.
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

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Admitting slow progress in the proposed locomotive factories in Madhepura and Marhora in Bihar, Roy said executing PPP mode projects was a time-consuming affair.

He said the capitals of the seven North Eastern states, and Sikkim will be linked with broad gauge network for which the plan has already been approved.

The Railway Minister also assured the House that the five-km long Bogibill rail-cum-road bridge over the Brahmaputra river will be completed by 2015.


Image: A passenger checks his seating on the Amritsar bound train, as he receives help from a conductor.
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Tags: Roy , Sikkim , PPP , Bogibill , House

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