Railway finances

| Updated on: Feb 15, 2011

The article “Railways on deficit track” ( Business Line , February 15) was timely. Railways' Financial Commissioner had recently pointed out that the Railways had to pay the arrears for the staff consequent on the Pay Commission recommendations from its resources. He had also disclosed that even a 10 per cent increase in passenger fares across the board would yield a measly income of Rs 2,500 crore, peanuts compared to the huge sum needed for expansion. The operating ratio has now touched 95 per cent, a matter of concern.

The government should double the budgetary provision for the Railways. It needs to consider afresh the various recommendations of expert committees on Indian Railways, especially on the question of its obligation to pay dividends to the government when there is the need for a massive dose of investment on rail network in such areas as North Eastern States. Instead, there is a case for the Railways receiving for several more years massive doses of investment from the general Budget. Some of the N-E projects are being taken up only in the 13th Plan when the need is a quicker completion of the projects in this area.

A comparison with the Chinese Railways would only heighten the level of public frustration at the lagging progress of Indian Railways. China has built the Beijing-Lhasa Rail line and its plans are to extend the rail and road network up to our border. It is disappointing that our rail link even up to Srinagar has got bogged down because of geophysical difficulties.

There is therefore a strong case for the development projects of Indian Railways being taken up as a national priority for economic and strategic reasons.

S. Subramanyan


Published on February 16, 2011

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