The Lok Sabha Thursday passed the Rail Budget for 2015-16 following a marathon discussion during which Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu underlined that Railways is a national asset and needs to be run professionally. “We are negotiating with World Bank, IFC and ADB. That will give us a substantially large amount that will be available for repayment over a long period. It is a very soft source of money,” Prabhu said, detailing how his ministry aimed to garner the 8.5 lakh crore investment in the next five years.
“There are institutions like India Infrastructure Finance Limited. We are negotiating for a joint venture with them. We are talking to State Bank of India…we are also going to sign an MoU with Coal India and others in the next few days,” he said.“We will use their surplus money and create win-win lines,” Prabhu said, adding that while the companies get new lines to evacuate coal, Railways will earn freight.
On Railways plans to achieve the revised freight loading targets, Prabhu pointed to the coal and mining Bills recently passed by Lok Sabha. “There is going to be a huge movement of raw material from mines to the processing point. There will be manufacture, so there is going to be movement of finished goods from the manufacturing point to the market. There is going to be a huge demand for Railways,” he said.
Stating that Railways can’t just be a commercial enterprise, he said: “It has to be a social, economic and political organisation. We cannot ignore that for so many people Railways is one of the big means of transportation”. He added: “If Railways itself is not viable, how can it serve the poor?