The financial health of the Indian Railways is not good at present time. The Union Railway Minister..
In a statement given to the media, Trivedi has already expressed his displeasure over the poor infrastructure. He said that there was an urgent need to pump in money for improving the basic infrastructure to match with the international standards. There was need to modernize the signaling system, tracks, for producing new high speed coaches and to induct more technical staff into the system in order to run its operations smoothly.
The minister has already slammed the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh
, for not providing adequate financial assistance to the Indian Railways
and thus the ministry has not been able to complete several pending projects on time. He wants a big package from the Finance ministry that can help the railway in modernizing its infrastructure. The railways need some one lakh crore to upgrade its infrastructure that include tracks, signaling, bridges, new tracks, and electrification work, etc.
At a time when the Anil Kakodkar committee report has put a big question mark on the safety of passengers, another report submitted to the government by Sam Pitroda
focus on the modernization of the railway infrastructure. Both the reports have been laying great emphasis on the safety and security of Indian railways on a day to day operation basis where the ministry needs to dole out a large sum of amount on upgrading the entire network which cannot be done by merely increasing the passenger fares as that would bring in some 5,000 crores to the ministry whereas the requirement is of about one lakh crore.
From the passengers’ point of view, the railway ministry should mainly focus on safety and sanitation. The passengers will not mind shelling a few extra bucks in return for a happy and safe travel. The minister could levy some charges in the upper class in order to provide clean bedding and quality refreshments. Besides, the train coaches need to be properly sanitized when they reach their destination.
Another interesting thing to note about the railway budget would be to see whether the railways were able to meet all the points that were highlighted in the last budget of 2011-12 presented by the then Railway minister, Mamata Banerjee
. In her budget, Mamata Banerjee had proposed an outlay of some 57,630 crore, highest ever in the history of Indian railways, to upgrade the railway network. The ministry had made the target of 1300 km new lines, 867 km doubling of lines and 1017 km gauge conversion in the 2011-12 Railway budget. The railway minister must also tell us the house how much of the target, the railways were able to achieve in actual during this period.
The minister needs to be realistic while giving final touches to the rail budget for 2012-13 as there has been a wide gap between the income and expenses and with the cost of operations going north, it would be a great challenge for the Indian railways to keep the revenue deficit check till something miraculous happens for the railways.