Budget 2019

Must create better experience for customers

| Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 17, 2017

Amit Kumar

Rajnish Kumar

Historically, the Railways has launched most of its initiatives outside of the Budget and we do not see the next one to be a major departure in that respect. However, one would like to see a reversal of some predominant motifs governing the Railways. For one, freight rates and CTO haulage charges need to be rationalised with reduction in cross-subsidy for passenger traffic.

Secondly, organisational discordance must be taken up on top priority with departmentalism reaching levels, never seen before. Every initiative and every idea is rendered infructuous with each department working at cross–purposes.

Thirdly, administration of field units needs to be reviewed through a totally different prism. They have become the speed breakers of all initiatives of the Ministry. The Zonal and Divisional units are reduced to, and probably always were, maintenance agencies for rail infrastructure like signals, tracks and the likes. They are not commercially oriented. Thus, they are totally out of sync with Delhi and the policy initiatives thrown at them for implementation.

In as far as the Railway Ministry is concerned it has not been able to create the ecology of dialogue and has not had much success for generating and nurturing new ideas. The lack of institutionalised mechanisms as well as a culture for taking feedback has destroyed the goodwill generated by announcements of policy and initiatives.

One of the important purposes of all initiatives, whether declared as part of the Budget or not, has to be with the objective of creating a better experience for the customers – both freight and passenger. Assured transit time is perhaps the most important service parameter that the Railways needs to look at.

Lastly, we expect the Budget to usher in far more aggressive targets of profitability for the Railways.

(Amit Kumar and Rajnish Kumar, who started Pristine Group, are former Railway officers. The group works in multi-modal space including private freight terminals and container train operations)

Published on January 17, 2017
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