How do you review the Railways performance in these 10 years?

Indian Railways is one of the best organisations in the world and subsequent government did not understand its strength vis-a-vis what it can add to the economy. If the GDP of the country has to grow at 10 per cent, Railways will have to grow 2 per cent above that. No railway in the world can work on (so-called) ‘profitable things’.

For the first time, there is a Budgetary support of Rs 250,000 crore, which was required. During my tenure as Minister (2012), I sought an allotment of Rs 50,000 crore under Railway Budget, hardly got peanuts.

In the last 10 years, Railways added infrastructure that has not been added over the previous 70 years. We see line doubling, . Railways expanding into areas – including tribal ones – which were left unattended as they were dubbed as unprofitable routes.

Vande Bharat is a dream project of the people and these will be expanded into sleepers (for overnight travel) and other categories.

Look at our neighbour, especially China. They have rail connectivity right upto the borders. Today, India is doing the same (with Border Rail projects).

The Dedicated Freight Corridor is nearing completion, food movement through trains are happening reducing wastage. Infrastructure addition takes a long time. Once the (upcoming) infrastructure projects are completed, Indian Railways will ensure that we become the second largest economy.


Are safety concerns addressed?

In the last 10 years safety has been a focus of the Railways. Barring one or two unfortunate incidents, safety has been taken good care of.

My main concern, as Rail Minister, was safety because there were incidents happening every day which led to deaths. Those were not being addressed previously.


What are the challenges? But do you see a need for fares to be more market driven?

There has to be cross–subsidy, and I don’t mean cargo vis-a-vis passengers. The subsidy has to within passenger fare (segments).

There is definitely a case of something getting privatised. Like in Japan, the government sets-up the infrastructure. But, there are select routes which are given to the private sector. In that context, you can look at having certain classes of trains in India which can be used. For instance, the Bullet Train and the revenue coming from it can be used to subsidise passenger fares specially in the lower end, thereby restricting the fare hikes.

Today’s working class, specially some who have migrated to larger cities, earn enough to afford good travel. Even the poor have been alleviated to a level where they can accommodate and afford some bare minimum fare rise given safety and comfort of travel. So yes, there is some case for fare hikes too. And I am sure the Centre is aware of that.


Often the question of profitability is raised when it comes to operations of Indian Railways. Your comments.

Earlier as Minister, I had said, Indian Railways was in ICU. Today that situation is much better.

By itself talking about Indian Railways getting into a profit does not sound like a reasonable