‘Aim to Cre­ate More Ca­pac­ity to In­crease Speed of Trains’

The Economic Times - - Front Page -

The fi­nance min­istry has taken ahead the agenda set by the rail­ways. in the first ever com­bined Bud­get, Rail Min­is­ter Suresh Prabhu tells ET’s Ra­jat Arora and KVL Ak­shay. Edited ex­cerpts:

Do you think the al­lo­ca­tion made to rail­ways is enough to meet your tar­gets? We have had a capex of al­most ₹ 3.5 lakh crore dur­ing last three years in com­par­i­son to around ₹ 1.5 lakh crore from 2012-2014 (the last three years of UPA II). So, money isn’t a con­cern any­more. We have lever­aged ex­tra-bud­getary re­sources and can further raise funds from in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors if need be.

There’s still a huge back­log of in­com­plete projects… To spend that much money, we needed a struc­ture. So, we del­e­gated the pow­ers to re­duce the time lag. This has cre­ated an in­sti­tu­tion­alised ca­pac­ity in the rail­ways to spend to the tune of the mag­ni­tude we are talk­ing about. Out of 67 de­con­ges­tion projects which were an­nounced last year, al­most 60 are well un­der con­struc­tion and the re­main­ing are in fi­nal stages of award. We’ve never ex­e­cuted projects at such a pace.

How do you in­tend to use the funds? There’s a re­newed fo­cus on in­creas­ing through­put. Most of funds will go to­wards mod­erni­sa­tion and safety heads. Sta­tion de­vel­op­ment is big on our agenda. We want to cre­ate more ca­pac­ity to in­crease speed of trains. Freight and pas­sen­ger load­ing is see­ing an uptick. We need to in­vest in rakes as well. There will be a sea change in the en­tire rail­way sys­tem by the end of next fi­nan­cial year.

Do you miss an­nounc­ing new high­speed trains? Bud­get merger is a big re­form. This year’s Bud­get was not a rail­way bud­get. But if you look at the tenor of the over­all bud­get for the rail­ways, it is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the very broad theme that we had laid down in my first and sec­ond bud­get speech. The in­vest­ment goes into mod­erni­sa­tion, dou­bling of ca­pac­ity, safety and is­sues like that. This bud­get is further ar­tic­u­lat­ing our agenda.

How do you think you have fared on im­ple­men­ta­tion of schemes an­nounced in the last bud­get? We have done a de­cent job. I started a tra­di­tion of presenting ac­tion- taken re­ports of bud­get an­nounce­ments. Last fis­cal, 132 ini­tia­tives were ei­ther com­pleted or were on tar­get. This fi­nan­cial year, out of 141 an­nounce­ments, 136 ini­tia­tives are com­pleted or on tar­get. This is how we have brought ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency to the en­tire process. Some of the big­gest re­forms in rail­ways have been car­ried out in the last two years — be it or­gan­i­sa­tional re­struc­tur­ing, set­ting up of new struc­tures like SRESTHA for R&D, SUTRA for data an­a­lyt­ics, KRAs for man­agers, in­no­va­tive fi­nanc­ing, ERP, ac­count­ing re­forms, rail reg­u­la­tor and new train products. In the next three years, we want to con­sol­i­date and build crit­i­cal mass of the new ser­vices.

What is your anal­y­sis of the Bud­get? The Prime Min­is­ter and the fi­nance min­is­ter are fo­cus­ing on in­vest­men­tled growth. And also, the growth is mar­ried with so­cial jus­tice. Sec­tors such as agri­cul­ture and MSMEs which have job cre­ation po­ten­tial have been given spe­cial fo­cus.

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