Indian Railways News

Car Breaks Through Barrier. Then, Near Miss With Train

In a warning to drivers to stay vigilant around railway crossings, the state railway company of Poland has released terrifying footage of a car’s near brush with tragedy.

In surveillance video recorded last week in Koszalin, North Poland, a car crashed through a closed railway barrier and drove across the tracks, apparently oblivious to the fact that a speeding train was heading their way. The car manages to cross the tracks but the train hits its tail light leaving the rear side badly damaged due to the impact, as seen in footage taken from another angle.

The driver was accompanied by three passengers who luckily escaped unharmed. The seemingly distraught passengers could be seen rushing out of the car after the incident.

Darjeeling Toy Train Loses Rs. 2.5 Crore Due To Agitation

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) has incurred an estimated loss of Rs. 2.5 crore due to the ongoing Gorkhaland agitation in West Bengal, an official said on Monday.

“If the situation would have been normal, that is the amount we would have earned in this time by running our trains. Services have been suspended since June 12,” Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) Chief Public Relations Officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma told IANS.

Till June 12 this year, the DHR registered earnings of Rs. 3.05 crore.

The heritage train operates under NFR. The UNESCO granted world heritage status to the DHR on December 2, 1999.

Following the agitation, the Sonada and Gayabari stations of DHR were damaged besides the DHR headquarter Elysia building at Kurseong. The Gayabari station was gutted in a fire.

“We used to run nine trains daily from Darjeeling to Ghoom. There used to be a train from Siliguri to Darjeeling and one from Darjeeling to Siliguri. All the trains have stopped. We have to sit back till the situation normalises,” Mr Sharma said.

All advance bookings from July 12 for DHR toy trains were cancelled and money refunded. The annual expenditure of the DHR is estimated at Rs. 15 crore.

The hill passenger railway started operations in 1881.

Local parties have been protesting in the West Bengal hills demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland.

Railway Tatkal Booking: Reservation, Cancellation Rules, And New IRCTC Facility

The Tatkal booking facility is meant to provide reservation facility to passengers who undertake train journey at short notice. IRCTC through its apps and website offers online booking facility under the Tatkal scheme. Tatkal tickets can be booked one day in advance excluding the date of journey from the train originating station, according to IRCTC’s website. IRCTC website also advises passengers to first check tickets available under the general booking facility before opting for the Tatkal scheme. IRCTC website also says that during the journey, at least one passenger, whose identity card number has been indicated on the ticket, will have to produce original proof of identity indicated on the ticket, failing which all the passengers booked on the ticket will be treated as travelling without ticket and charged accordingly.

10 Things To Know About The Tatkal Scheme

1) Recently, the Railways reiterated Tatkal rules after some reports mentioned that Railways is introducing several changes and new facilities with effect from 1st July, 2017. “This news is totally incorrect and baseless. This has created a lot of confusion in the minds of the rail users,” the Railways clarified on June 30.

2) The booking time for Tatkal Tickets was changed in 2015 with booking for AC classes opening at 10:00 AM and for Non-AC classes at 11:00 AM one day in advance of actual date of journey excluding date of journey. There is no change in these timings and the same arrangement is continuing, the Railways said.

3) Again there is no change in the refund rules of Tatkal tickets, the Railways said. “Under the existing rule, no refund is granted on cancellation of confirmed Tatkal tickets/ duplicate tatkal ticket. This rule continuous to be in operation.”

4) Recently IRCTC added two new payment facilities for booking tickets under Tatkal as well as general scheme.

5) A new facility, called ‘ePaylater’, is powered by M/s Arthashastra Fintech Pvt Ltd as a pilot project.

6) The service charge levied on use of the ‘ePaylater’ scheme is 3.50 per cent of transaction amount and applicable taxes. To make people aware about the availability of this method, an option of ‘ePaylater’ is displayed at the payment page of the IRCTC website.

Railway Tatkal Booking: Reservation, Cancellation Rules, And New IRCTC Facility
Tatkal tickets can be booked one day in advance excluding the date of journey from the train originating station.
Business | NDTV Profit Team | Updated: August 15, 2017 08:56 IST

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Railway Tatkal Booking: Reservation, Cancellation Rules, And New IRCTC Facility

Recently IRCTC added two new payment facilities for booking tickets under Tatkal.
The Tatkal booking facility is meant to provide reservation facility to passengers who undertake train journey at short notice. IRCTC through its apps and website offers online booking facility under the Tatkal scheme. Tatkal tickets can be booked one day in advance excluding the date of journey from the train originating station, according to IRCTC’s website. IRCTC website also advises passengers to first check tickets available under the general booking facility before opting for the Tatkal scheme. IRCTC website also says that during the journey, at least one passenger, whose identity card number has been indicated on the ticket, will have to produce original proof of identity indicated on the ticket, failing which all the passengers booked on the ticket will be treated as travelling without ticket and charged accordingly.

10 Things To Know About The Tatkal Scheme

1) Recently, the Railways reiterated Tatkal rules after some reports mentioned that Railways is introducing several changes and new facilities with effect from 1st July, 2017. “This news is totally incorrect and baseless. This has created a lot of confusion in the minds of the rail users,” the Railways clarified on June 30.

2) The booking time for Tatkal Tickets was changed in 2015 with booking for AC classes opening at 10:00 AM and for Non-AC classes at 11:00 AM one day in advance of actual date of journey excluding date of journey. There is no change in these timings and the same arrangement is continuing, the Railways said.

3) Again there is no change in the refund rules of Tatkal tickets, the Railways said. “Under the existing rule, no refund is granted on cancellation of confirmed Tatkal tickets/ duplicate tatkal ticket. This rule continuous to be in operation.”

4) Recently IRCTC added two new payment facilities for booking tickets under Tatkal as well as general scheme.

5) A new facility, called ‘ePaylater’, is powered by M/s Arthashastra Fintech Pvt Ltd as a pilot project.

6) The service charge levied on use of the ‘ePaylater’ scheme is 3.50 per cent of transaction amount and applicable taxes. To make people aware about the availability of this method, an option of ‘ePaylater’ is displayed at the payment page of the IRCTC website.
tatkal irctc
(A screenshot from IRCTC website. To avail this new facility, an user has to close Pay On Delivery/Paylater option on the left which appears on the payments page)

7) In another Pay-On-Delivery option – powered by Anduril Technologies – IRCTC users will be able to pay via cash, debit card or credit card by opting to have tickets delivered at their doorstep.

8) “The pay on delivery feature circumvents the use of a payment gateway and will help users make the bookings in just a few seconds greatly increasing their chance of booking a confirmed ticket under the Tatkal quota,” said Anduril Technologies CEO Anurag Bajpai.

9) If you opt for the ‘Book Now, Pay Later’ option – powered by Anduril Technologies – via the IRCTC website, you will be led to a page which states: “In case, if the travel is within next 24 hrs, you are requested to pay online through payment link forwarded to the email given at the time of booking. Door step payment collection will be attempted within next 24-72 hours. In case of non-payment before the travel date, the ticket will be cancelled and the user will be liable to pay the cancellation charges.”

10) Refusal on part of the customer to pay for the ticket shall amount to its cancellation and the customer shall be liable to pay for the cancellation charges, failure of which shall invite strict action as per law and user account will be deactivated, the IRCTC website said. Transaction charges for this facility range from Rs. 90 to Rs. 120 plus applicable taxes for transaction. (With agency inputs)

Railways set the stock rolling to bring back Delhi’s Ring Rail on track

Delhi’s Ring railway may be revived soon. Northern Railways plans to run both freight and goods trains on tracks parallel to each other.

However, encroachments at certain sections of the circuit have been preventing the authorities from executing their ideas, officials said.

Under the present two-track system, 90 goods trains run along with just nine passenger ones. Railway officials plan to add two more tracks, which would run parallel to the existing system. The additional tracks could be used for more passenger trains.

“We have minimal passenger trains as it has not gained enough popularity. The two new tracks will run these trains and provide EMUs for suburban connectivity,” RN Singh, DRM (Delhi division) told, adding that encroachment next to the tracks are hampering these plans.

To remove the encroachments, Railways had paid Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) Rs 11.25 crores in 2003-04 for the relocation of 4,410 jhuggis. However, only 257 of them have been removed so far, a railway official said.

“We have requested the chief secretary of NCT Delhi for the expeditious removal of encroachment which are not only affecting the development of infrastructure, but also the maintenance activities and safety of railway operation. Certain sections also fall under the ring railway system that needs to get cleared for the tracks to be executed,” said Singh.

The ring railway system was constructed in 1975 and has 21 stations in a circular network of approximately 35km. The Railways had been conducting feasibility studies on the revival of the system that also identified pockets under the railways which can be used for commercial purposes. Officials said its utilisation could help make the system more financially viable and provide better facilities to people.

“We have plots in certain pockets which can be given for commercial use as well as shops. This will generate additional revenue and passengers who use suburban trains can also get better facilities,” Singh added.

High Capacity Parcel Vans and Milk Vans in Indian Railways

To meet the demand of full vehicle load perishable traffic, Indian Railways has developed High Capacity Parcel Vans (VPs) with a capacity of 23 Tonnes which are attached to passenger carrying trains subject to availability of room in train and operational feasibility. To facilitate transportation of milk through Rail, specially designed High Capacity Milk Tankers having capacity of 44.66 KL are run as Special trains. At present 3 Milk tanker trains are being run of which 2 trains are run by Gujarat Corporative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMFL) from Palanpur to Bhim Sen and other by Mother Dairy from Daund to Baraut.

In addition to this, Indian Railways also run special parcel train consisting of High Capacity Parcel Vans for transportation of fruits in bulk like Mango, Banana, Orange etc. on demand, on a fixed path between specific origin-destination stations. Railways supply rakes for transportation of fruits on indent basis.

For transportation of horticulture produce in container, Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) has procured 98 Ventilated Isolated Containers specially designed for movement of fruits and vegetables.

Helped by the rivalry between its powerful neighbours China and India, Nepal revives its Railway Network

Three years after its last train hit the buffers, landlocked Nepal is building a new railway network to boost its ailing economy—helped by the rivalry between its powerful neighbours, China and India.

The railway line to India was a lifeline for the small southern frontier town of Janakpur, used to import everything from sweets to clothes and cosmetics and fuelling a vibrant border economy. The Janakpur Railway was a 762 mm gauge line which connects Jaynagar in India with the pilgrim centre in Janakpur. The big temple here is an interesting site and an important place of pilgrimage. As there is no parallel road the railway is still the only way to get there from Jaynagar. The line is flat and runs almost dead straight towards the north-west to Janakpur. As the lowlands to the foot of the Himalayan mountains see floods every monsoon season, there are many bridges along the line.

But it fell into disrepair after years of neglect and since 2014 the train has sat stationary, its rusting carcass now a playground for local children, while Janakpur’s markets are empty.

“When the train was running, we would have a lot of business. I was easily providing (for) my family,” said Shyam Sah, whose small family-run cosmetics shop has suffered an 80% drop in profits since the railway closed. Now it is being rebuilt with Indian backing, one of three new rail lines—one funded by China in the north and a third by Nepal itself— that the country hopes will help boost international trade.

Nepal remains largely isolated from the global economy, dependent on aid and remittances. Growth slowed dramatically after a 2015 earthquake but is expected to normalise at 5% from 2018—one of the slowest rates in South Asia—according to the World Bank.

In recent years it has courted its two large neighbours for investment in an attempt to plug itself into a rail network that links the far eastern reaches of Asia with Europe. But geography is not on its side. The Himalayas form a natural border between Nepal and China, leaving it largely dependent on India—with which it shares a 1,400 kilometre open border—for the majority of its imports and exports.

In recent years Kathmandu has tilted towards Beijing as part of a nationalist drive to decrease the country’s reliance on New Delhi. China has responded, ramping up its diplomatic ties with Nepal—mostly through large-scale infrastructure investments.

In 2017, Beijing pledged $8.3 billion to build roads and hydropower plants in Nepal, dwarfing India’s commitments of $317 million. Feasibility studies are also underway for a Beijing- backed railway connecting Kathmandu to Lhasa in Tibet, cutting straight through the Himalayas at an estimated cost of $8 billion.

Ankit Panda, senior editor at The Diplomat magazine, said that could be a game-changer for the small country. “The rail line with China holds potential depending on the demand side of the equation, on how China allows Nepal to leverage that link for commercial growth opportunities,” he said.

But it has strained relations between India and China, who are currently locked in a tense standoff on a remote Himalayan plateau in Bhutan sparked by a new road being built by China. “China knows that its chequebook diplomacy with the smaller Asian states is a sore point with India, which simply cannot afford to put up the kind of capital outlays that the Chinese promise,” said Panda.

The project is part of its “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a massive global infrastructure programme to connect Chinese companies to new markets around the world that critics see as a geopolitical powerplay. Regional rival India has snubbed the plan and skipped a summit in Beijing in May.

New Delhi is funding the reconstruction of the Janakpur line, rebuilding the tracks to carry broad-gauge trains that will allow it to connect to the rest of the subcontinent’s expansive rail network. Meanwhile Nepal is building a 945-kilometre line that will cut across the southern plains from east to west. Nearly a third of the track has been built, but construction has stalled for lack of funds and it is not clear when it work will be finished.

Some experts warn that Nepal has become a de-facto battleground in a geopolitical struggle for regional supremacy between India and China—a position that Kathmandu must navigate carefully. “None of them (smaller Asian nations) want to become a de facto satellite state,” said Michael Auslin, Asia expert and fellow with the Hoover Institution.

“But by having both India and China essentially compete over it, from one perspective it makes it a battleground, from another perspective it means that Nepal is playing the two off against each other,” he added.

Meanwhile, the people of Janakpur are eagerly awaiting the rail revival that will connect them to India once again. “When the train stopped, everything finished. Business has gone down for all of the city,” said bookshop owner Rajendra Kusuwah. “After the new rail comes, it will open doors for development.”

Work for Sitamarhi-Janakpur Railway line on high steam

The Indian government has started paperwork for laying down railway track between Sitamarhi district of Bihar and Janakpurdham of Nepal.

According to a news report published in Indian newspaper Bhaskar News, the 45-kilometer track is being laid down to strengthen bilateral relation between the two countries. The project has been included in budget of the India’s Ministry of Railways for 2016/17.

The track will be 60 meters wide, according to the news report.
It is believed that the railway line between Sitamarhi and Janakpurdham will enhance relation between the two countries.

Indian government has taken needful steps to do away with problems that might occur while implementing the project. The railway line is expected to boost trade and business in both the cities.

The number of Indian tourists coming to Janakpur has come down as the Bhittamod-Jaleshwar-Janakpur, the only road between Sitamarhi and Janakpur, is in a bad condition. Earlier, thousands of Indian tourists used to visit Janakpur during festivals like Ram Nawami and Bibaha Panchami, among others. Once the railway links the two cities, the number of tourists to Janakpur is expected to increase significantly, bringing more income opportunities for locals and businesses.

Nepal and India share friendly relation since ancient times. The marriage between Indian prince Rama and Nepali princess Sita has made Janakpur a special place for Indians. Easy mode of transport is expected to facilitate movement of visitors between the two cities.

Locals of Mahottari have welcomed the Indian government decision to build railway line between Sitamarhi and Janakpurdham. Bajrang Nepali, a local leader of Nepali Congress, expressed his happiness at the initiative taken by the Indian government. “Janakpur could be the capital of Province No. 2. So, massive investment in infrastructure sector is needed,” he added.

He also said that the government should now take up the issue with India. “Though Indian has begun paperwork for the railway line, no route has been finalized yet. The two governments should sit together and finalize the route,” Nepali added.

Railways’ Wi-Fi Video Entertainment Plan for Passengers gathers Steam

You could soon have video entertainment on trains to see you through long journeys. Video content providers such as Viacom18, Zee, Hungama and Shemaroo are keen to bid for the rights to provide video content on 3,000 trains through wireless intranet.

The Indian Railways, under its non-fare revenue cell, has drawn up the plan to provide video content, including movies in all major Indian languages on all its passenger trains.

Under the plan, passengers will be able to watch the content on their phones by logging on to the railways’ local wi-fi network onboard.

According to the railways, the companies have evinced interest during the pre-bid conferences and will participate in bidding next month as well.

The number of trains will be divided into two equal packages and the bidding will happen in a phase-wise manner. The deal is likely to fetch the railways nearly Rs 500 crore annually in non-fare revenue.

“Almost 24 such companies have come forward. We will be charging an annual license fee from the successful bidder,” a top railway official said.

The contract will be awarded for a period of five years. The official said since uninterrupted internet facility cannot be provided on trains due to technological challenges and high cost, the plan to disseminate content through local wi-fi in all coaches will work well.

“Earlier, we were expecting over Rs 1,000 crore annually from this segment. But after consultation with stakeholders, it was felt that the market was still not ripe. However, we will easily be able to get Rs 500 crore without even spending a penny as the successful bidder will provide the technology and the equipment,” the official added.

A distribution box will be installed in the coaches, which will be updated regularly. Passengers will be able to consume content on their own devices.

The content-on-demand project falls under the railways’ plan to boost non-fare revenue by selling advertising spaces inside and outside trains and railway stations, and branding rights for stations and trains, besides leasing out spaces for ATMs and shops.

The railways sees Rs 18,000-crore revenue potential for these initiatives annually. In the recently released volume two of the Economic Survey 2016-17, it has been suggested that the railways should focus on such initiatives to boost revenue.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has set the target to earn 10% of total rail revenue from such sources so that reliance on freight and passenger fares can be reduced.

Currently, the railways earn only 3% of its total revenue from non-fare sources as against the 15-20% average for railways in developed counties.

Railways’ Disaster Management Institute and Safety village to come up near Bengaluru

Trains falling into rivers and coaches catching fire will be common sights in the country’s first ‘Railways disaster management village’ expected to come up on the outskirts of Bengaluru by December next year.

A senior official of the railways ministry said “overaged rolling stock” will be used to replicate train accidents so that real time rescue operations could be carried out to improve such efforts.

“It will be just like the mock drills carried out by security personnel. It will be as real as it can get,” he said.

The railways has earmarked the 3.32-sq km village of Hejjala, with a resource of 3,483 people, to develop its Disaster Management Institute and Safety village at a cost of Rs 44.42 crore, according to the blueprint accessed by PTI.

“For augmenting theoretical class room training with practical hands on exercise, a real environment for training in various conditions and scenarios of train accidents, a concept of safety village was envisaged,” it said.

The focus is on imparting state of the art training on rescue, medical relief and rolling stock restoration techniques in a classroom and also using various simulated teaching aids. However, it is the practical reproduction of accidents on site and the ensuing rescue operations that are being touted as the big ticket venture.

“For the practical training as a part of the safety village tunnel, cutting, embankment, other conditions and obstructions like overhead structures and platforms are being created. For carrying out underwater rescue and relief operations, a water body is also being developed,” it said.

Overaged rolling stock such as coaches, wagons and locomotives would be stationed in the safety village along with various tools and equipment for imparting hands-on practical training, the concept note said.

“The centre aims at providing training on dealing with various disasters under varied environment and terrain,” it said. The focus is on imparting state of the art training on rescue, medical relief and rolling stock restoration techniques in a classroom and also using various simulated teaching aids. However, it is the practical reproduction of accidents on site and the ensuing rescue operations that are being touted as the big ticket venture.

Construction work has begun and will be completed by December next year, it said.

Indian Railways on the fast track to undertake 70 Capacity Augmentation projects

Suresh Prabhu, the minister of railways, is a man in a tearing hurry. For he has to make up for the lack of any significant addition over the last two decades to the infrastructure of this 65,000-km-long network. Successive railway ministers, given to populism, have announced hundreds of new trains at the annual Rail Budgets, unmindful of whether there was adequate track capacity to run them or not. Resultantly, over the last two decades, no less than 5,000 such new trains have been added, taking the total tally of passenger trains to nearly 9,000, whereas the addition to freight during this period has been less than 1,000 trains.

Moreover, most of the new passenger trains have been the superfast variety, on the lines of those started by the late Madhavrao Scindia, who introduced the concept of fast intercity trains such as the Shatabdi Express in the 1980s. Nitish Kumar as the railway minister introduced a slew of Sampark Kranti Express trains, Lalu Prasad Yadav had his brand of Garib Rath, while Mamata Banerjee did one better with the Duronto Express trains which ran non-stop from source to destination.

The overcrowded tracks, 60% of which now carry over 100% and some even 150% of their designed capacity, have resulted in the freight trains taking a severe hit, with the average speeds dropping to an abysmal 25kph, since the passenger trains are always accorded precedence over freight.

Simultaneously, the reluctance of ministers over the last two decades to announce any meaningful hike in passenger tariff to keep up with inflation has resulted in the passenger business being subsidised at the cost of freight, whose tariff was hiked regularly to keep the Indian Railways from going in the red.

The double whammy of low average speeds and the hike in tariff each year adversely impacted Indian Railways’ freight business. It has not been able to attract any significant volumes of new business and merrily carried on with annual increments in bulk commodities such as coal, iron ore, limestone, cement, food grains, petroleum products, etc.

The absence of assured timetable in the running of special parcel express trains, comparatively high tariff, and rigidity in rules and regulations have resulted in the lucrative parcel business eluding the railways and continuing to prefer road sector.

With financing of infrastructure projects being assured by insurance giant LIC, whom minister Prabhu persuaded to provide a Rs 1.5 lakh crore loan, the Indian Railways has now been on the fast track to undertake 70 capacity augmentation projects.

Mostly for converting single lines to double or double to triple wherever the volume of traffic has gone beyond 100% of designed capacity, projects sanctioned so far with a total length of 7,663.93-km and costing Rs 75,700.28 crore range from a short 1.82-km bypass line at Khurda Road in Odisha costing Rs 25.72 crore to doubling of the 467-km track of the Pune-Miraj-Londa section costing Rs 3,627 crore. Chhattisgarh government and South Eastern Coalfields have been roped in for a JV with Ircon to finance a 122-km-long new line from Gevra Road to Pendra Road costing Rs 4,949.28 crore for movement of coal.

The world over, for railways, freight is the breadwinner, with passenger services restricted mostly to fast intercity or commuter services. However, India has the unique distinction of having two-thirds of its trains carrying passengers which earn just one-third of its total revenue. Prabhu aims to correct this aberration by creating adequate infrastructure, offering fast, safe and cost-effective rail transport for freight, regaining Indian Railways’ role as the nation’s economic lifeline.

Two new corridors, dedicated to carry freight, have also been in the works for almost a decade. The Eastern Corridor, a 1,278-km-long Ludhiana-Son Nagar alignment parallel to the existing grand trunk route, would meet the growing demand for coal by thermal power plants in the North from collieries in the East.

The Western Corridor—1,504-km-long from Delhi (Dadri) to Mumbai (JNPT)—will help export-import trade and also cater to the proposed DMIC. Expected to be commissioned sometime by end-2020, it will offer assured timetable running of freight trains, typically completing the Dadri to JNPT run in 24 hours.

Let Railways run on Commercial lines, not as a Charity

A parliamentary panel report on the Indian Railways wants to take the railways back to the stone-age. The panel has asked the government not to consider the national transporter as a commercial undertaking and to find ways to fund ‘socially desirable projects’.

As per the railways, a socially desirable project is one which has a rate of return of less than 12 percent.

Of the 432 projects that were considered 292 of them have a rate of return of less than 12 percent and astonishingly 222 of them have a negative rate of return. Thankfully, the committee said that these projects should be funded through gross budgetary support (GBS) and not through outside credit whereby the Railways have to pay the market rate because the return from these lines would not be substantial enough to reimburse the cost of borrowing. In other words, tax payers should foot the bill.

There seems to be little logic in what the panel has recommended. Railways are already starving for funds and with an operating ratio of nearly 96 percent, it is barely able to keep its head above water. According to the Railways, the total net social service obligation on coaching and freight services was at Rs 34,000 crore in FY16. Adding more unviable projects will hamper future prospects of railways.

There is a case for connecting remote border areas with railways, but all other projects which can have an alternative should be considered.

Railways are already going through its biggest ever expansion plan with a clear cut roadmap of Rs 8.5 lakh crore being planned over the next five years. Most part of the funding required for the huge expenditure is from non-government sources.

Railway electrification, which stands at 42 percent, is expected to be doubled over the next five years. About 16,500 km of railway lines are projected to be doubled or tripled. This compares with 22,000 km that was laid over the last 70 years. Private freight stations are expected to be created along with the dedicated freight corridor.

Which the fund requirement for decongestion is huge, railways is clogged with semi-finished projects that have been announced so that politicians can o please their vote banks.

The railway network is already clogged at various points with 16 percent of the network carrying 60 percent of the traffic. Some regions of the network are operating at 150-160 percent of their capacity. This results in accidents and deaths. Rather than spending money on safety the proposal to invest in ‘socially desirable projects’ is a cruel joke.

Surprisingly, there is no mention of hiking rail fare to meet the requirement of full-filling these projects. Railways, which was known to lose market share on long distance route to the airline, is losing on short and medium distances to buses and alternate transports. What it means is that people prefer to use other transport services irrespective of the price. Politicians should thus stop their drama of crying for even small increases because people are now willing to pay provided timely services are available.

For the first time in the recent past the railways is being run like a professional organization. Track line at 8 km per day from earlier levels of 3 km per day is an indication that railway employees are willingly contributing to the growth. World Bank has appreciated, in writing, the way in which railways are functioning. Under such circumstances, the idea suggested by the parliament panel of going back to the old ways of subsidizing ‘socially desirable projects’ is one from the previous era.

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