Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday said the Indian Railways has initiated the process of addressing several key areas, including upgradation of rail roller shops, improvement in traffic management, cleanliness and quality of railway platforms and most importantly, customer satisfaction.
“Railways had several backward and forward linkages and the sector had the potential to significantly contribute to India’s growth,” Prabhu said, while addressing FICCI’s 88th Annual General Meeting here.
Prabhu further said that the Railway Ministry has adopted a Five Year Plan model to turn the sector around, work on which had been initiated.
“The investment cycle for the sector is about 3-5 years and the ministry intends to synchronize this with the country’s Five Year Plans. It is most critical that a proper lifecycle assessment of the projects is done and the correct projects are identified. In order to witness a dramatic positive change in the sector, it will be imperative to have a repetition of this investment cycle over the course of at least next 3-4 five year plans,” he added.
Prabhu said that the Ministry of Railways has submitted a White Paper on the ‘Challenges of the Railways’ to the Parliament.
“This white paper is an objective assessment of the difficulties being faced by the sector. There is a need to work with a sense of urgency to bring about a significant improvement,” he added.
He informed that the Ministry in the last Railway Budget had indicated a 110 actionable points for the sector. The Minister was happy to note that the work on each of these points has already begun.
“The Ministry had successfully initiated work on the areas which were not a part of the Budget announcements. For instance, work on modernization of locomotive factories has been initiated and 40,000 crore of contract have already been awarded. Work on the railway dedicated freight corridor has also been initiated and contracts are being awarded for this as well. The Ministry seeks to undertake an overall restructuring of railways as an organization to bring in greater operational efficiency. A draft regulatory framework has been framed for proper fixation of passenger and freight fares,” he added.
Prabhu added that PPPs have not really taken off in the sector, and adequate focus would be given to get PPPs on board. The Government is trying its best to make Indian Railways transparent, efficient and customer friendly.
Highlighting the challenges in the sector, Prabhu said that the Government was trying its best to address these issues.
“Firstly, the significant burden which is expected from the new pay commission going ahead would be the most difficult to handle. Secondly, the revenue from the freight and bulk cargo is going down due to weak demand from the steel and cement sectors. Thirdly, the cost of energy has been a concern for the sector as it is one of the largest consumers of power,” he said.
The Minister said that it was inevitable to develop a multimodal transportation system to provide an end to end solution to the transportation problem. In this regard, he mentioned that the Government has sanctioned various contracts to improve the road and port connectivity with railways.
Prabhu said that Indian Railways is expanding partnership with Japan and Korea for upgradation of infrastructure, safety standards and in R&D cooperation. The proposed Dedicated Freight Corridor through Bangalore-Chennai Industrial Corridor is a step forward in boosting India-Japan partnership in upgrading Indian Railways.(ANI)