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Suresh Prabhu rules out privatisation in railways
Ruling out any privatisation in railways, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that public service is paramount and that it cannot ignore the common man who depends hugely on the public transporter.

Prabhu also rejected a suggestion that in the long-run the railways may no longer be a low-cost and a common man's mode of transport and will rather be more on the lines of privatised services.

"This cannot be done in India," he said. "I think the railways is a mode of last resort for common people for transportation and we will have to bear that burden as well as the responsibility. You cannot say railways' problems will be solved by privatisation," Prabhu said during an interaction with PTI on Wednesday.

"The solution should be an outcome based approach. Very few railways in the world are privatised," he added.

Prabhu also said that given the public service obligation that the railways has, no private company will be interested in buying it.

"Do you think the private airlines will do kissan special airline. We are concerned about the people travelling on train," Prabhu said.

Indian Railways has asked the NITI Aayog to look into the public service obligation aspect as on an average, the railways spend Rs 30,000-35,000 crore a year to run passenger trains but its profit is cross-subsidised from freight services.

Describing the fiscal 2016-17 as an "unprecedented" year, Prabhu said, "It was a very difficult year for the Railways. Probably one of the most challenging years."

"In one year we have to take Rs 35,000 crore burden. And at the same time, first nine months were very bad because coal movement, steel, were down, imports were down, exports were down. Because most of the cargo that we collect, either takes to the port or off-loaded from the port. Despite that, we have been able to manage that," Prabhu said.

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