With the Indian Railways’ revenues not keeping up with projections and the national transporter facing a drop in passenger numbers, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is likely to take the unpopular decision of hiking passenger fares across the board soon.
Sources indicated that the fare hikes could be announced even before the railway budget.
Also, the Cabinet will soon take up the pending propsoal to allow 100% foreign direct investment through the automatic route in various segments like rolling stocks and tracks for high-speed trains, station development and warehouses.
On the sidelines of a conference of senior railway officials on Thursday, railway minister Sadananda Gowda said the decisions on these issue are likely before the upcoming budget session.
“We are discussing the matter and, within three-four days, will come to a conclusion,” Gowda said.
At present, the losses in the passenger segment are Rs 26,000 crore annually.
Gowda, sources said, was likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a day or two to discuss the fare hike proposal. Faced with an acute cash crunch, the railway board has proposed a 14.2% hike in passenger fares along with a 6.5% increase in freight rates.
On allowing the FDI in railway infrasturcture, Gowda said, “We are short of resources. So, some resource mobilisation should be done as being one of the priorities of railways. I’m discussing the matter with the commerce ministry (which has mooted the idea and circulated a note on this.”
In his address to the divisional railway managers and general managers of the railway zones, Gowda asked them to change their conventional style of work and improve efficiencies. He said the functioning of the railways “stands much behind in efficiency, punctuality, cleanliness and services”, and warned senior officials to “perform or perish”.
fe Bureau | The Financial Express