Long Train Run­ning

Part-pri­vati­sa­tion, in­fra for faster trains, freight cor­ri­dors—In­dian Rail­ways seem on track

India Today - - RAILWAYS - By Anilesh S. Ma­ha­jan

The Jour­ney So Far

IRCTC is leas­ing out the Luc­know-Delhi and Ahmed­abadMum­bai Te­jas Ex­press trains to pri­vate play­ers. On­board ser­vices are being out­sourced through an open bid­ding process; tick­et­ing will stay with the IRCTC. The In­dian Rail­ways has iden­ti­fied 25 more routes and will of­fer 5 per cent of the to­tal 2,800 rakes on lease to pri­vate play­ers

In­fra projects to ac­cel­er­ate the speed of pas­sen­ger trains (up to 160 kmph) on the Delhi-Mum­bai and Delhi-Howrah stretches cleared. Projects will be com­pleted by the end of FY 2023.

Work on the Western Ded­i­cated Freight Cor­ri­dor (DFC) be­tween Delhi and Mum­bai ac­cel­er­ated and the 1,506 km stretch may be ready by 2020 end. In the DFC con­nect­ing Lud­hi­ana in Pun­jab and Dankuni in West Ben­gal, the PPP plan for the 538km Son­na­gar, Bi­har-Dankuni stretch has been aban­doned.

Is It Enough?

With an­nual cap­i­tal out­lays of over Rs 1.5 lakh crore, the Rail­ways re­quires mas­sive ca­pac­ity aug­men­ta­tion and a cor­po­rate work cul­ture. It should be trans­formed into a PSU—as a cor­po­rate en­tity, not only would its ef­fi­ciency im­prove, but it would also have ac­cess to mar­kets for cap­i­tal. But this will re­quire big re­forms. The set­ting up of a reg­u­la­tor is cru­cial to en­sure a level play­ing field for pri­vate in­vestors and ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of fares.

The Un­fin­ished Agenda

Labour unions have to be brought on­board

Fares have to be ra­tio­nalised. Reg­u­la­tor needed to fix tar­iff for fares and freight.

Rail­way board re­formed, but de­ci­sion­mak­ing hasn’t im­proved

In­dian Rail­ways must be made a PSU, with a profit and loss bal­ancesheet of all di­vi­sions

3 more DFCs planned

TICKET TO RIDE Com­muters at the Ch­ha­tra­p­ati Shivaji Ter­mi­nus, Mum­bai

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