Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, union minister for railways, shared his views on the performance of the sector in the “Two Year Performance Report” released by the ministry…
The two years that have gone by would be recognised as significant in the history of Indian Railways (IR). These have been the years when we broke away from tradition and convention and abandoned the business-as-usual approach. These years have been challenging, no doubt; the experience has also been exciting. We have diagnosed that most of the problems ailing IR are due to underinvestment.
Last year, a five-year investment plan of Rs 8.56 lakh crore was unveiled. The capex plan for 2015-16 was increased to Rs 1 lakh crore as against an average of about Rs 48,000 crore spent during 2009-14. We have spent over Rs 93,000 crore against the aforesaid target, a feat never achieved earlier by IR. For the first time, we decided to go in for sustained borrowing from the market to meet the enhanced capex requirements. A financing facility has been extended by LIC to provide Rs 1.5 lakh crore over a period of five years. For 2016-17, our target is to spend Rs 1.21 lakh crore as capex, 34 per cent higher than in 2015-16.
The dedicated freight corridor has picked up momentum and the SPV for high speed rail has also been registered. The setting up of loco factories at
Madhepura and Marhowra is on schedule. We have awarded Habibganj station for redevelopment and several others would be taken up soon.
We have made untiring efforts to take care of the needs of our passengers. We are trying to resolve the problems of passengers on a real-time basis by using social media. Measures have also been taken to make journeys safer for women, divyang and senior citizens. We are introducing new services and upgrading existing ones. India’s first semi-high speed service, Gatimaan, was introduced recently. We will be providing long distance services – Humsafar: three tier air-conditioned, Antyodaya: completely unreserved, and Tejas: a premium travel experience.
To increase our modal share and to make our freight operations competitive, we have rolled back the port congestion surcharge and also appointed key customer managers for freight customers. We will also start a pilot of timetabled freight trains this year.
We have set ourselves new targets and for that we need to be suitably geared. We are evolving our organisational structure to suit the changing times. We are also creating new organisations and changing our delivery process to bring in more transparency. Some of the proposed organisations are – the Railway Planning and Investment Organisation, Special Unit for Transportation Research and Analytics and Special Railway Establishment for Strategic Technology & Holistic Advancement. We have announced 7 Missions – Mission Raftaar to increase the average speed of trains, Mission Zero Accident, Mission Hundred to commission 100 railway sidings in the next two years, Mission Procurement and Consumption Efficiency, Mission Capacity Utilisation, Mission 25 Ton to make our infrastructure suitable for carrying 25-ton axle load, and Mission Beyond Bookkeeping for accounting reforms.
We are making efforts for commercial exploitation of our assets. Apart from advertising and station redevelopment, we plan to monetise land along tracks, monetise data and encourage production units to manufacture for third-party use. We are making all out efforts to contain working expenses. We have effected huge savings in fuel expenditure. Through various cost optimisation measures we saved about Rs 12,000 crore in 2015-16, compared to budget estimates.
We are setting up joint ventures with state governments for enabling them to identify projects for development. We are also seeking cooperation from Japan, China, South Korea, France, Spain and Germany in areas such as high speed rail, station redevelopment, heavy haul, logistics terminals, etc.
We have set before us a target to give to the people of India by 2020, a rail system that they can be truly proud of and we are putting in all our efforts to deliver to our country whatever we promised.