Staying on the rails

The move by the Indian Railways to privatise a section of passenger traffic, and the launch by Minister Mallikarjun Kharge of the High Speed Rail Corporation, at this juncture, need to be very closely evaluated.

The talk of privatisation in the Railways has gone on for long, though not many efforts had borne fruit in the past. There needs to be some clarity and a clear policy on privatisation in India’s biggest monolithic public sector undertaking. It must be remembered that only the Railways have an annual budget of their own, outside the general budget.

So long as this route and the Public-Private Partnership model were looked at from the commercial or goods movement angle, or even for the production of coaches and locomotives, there was no problem. Obviously, the Railways cannot keep on investing in new production units. These efforts have succeeded only to a limited extent.

Is that why the Railways have now turned to opening up a segment of passenger traffic to the private sector? When they speak of high speed corridors and the need to run trains at 160 kmph or even 200 kmph, it naturally means creating new infrastructure that calls for massive investment — which the Indian Railways cannot afford now.

Full report here Hindu


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