By Ruma Dubey
The Union Budget included the Railway Budget and it got all lost. There were supporters and non-supporters, each voicing why one did not need or needed a Railway Budget.
So today Suresh Prabhu, the smart Railway Minister, found the middle road, pacifying one and all. He presented a min-Budget, which was named as Indian Railways Freight and Passenger Business Action Plan 2017-18.
Going by the goals set out by the Minister, which always seem too ambitious and more like a dream, the plans are nevertheless commendable. Mr.Prabhu rightly said, “We decided to set goals for ourselves and take accountability for the tasks to be undertaken this year.”
So a quick look at what all is planned for the Railways for FY18:
- To offer discounts on the long-term freight contacts, which will range between 1.5% and 35% as per incremental growth in gross freight revenues.
- Long-term tariff agreements to have a tenure of three-four years.
- To launch Bangladesh-India freight train this year.
- To convert 25 stations to 'digital stations'.
- To move towards Aadhaar-based ticketing system.
- Flagging off the confirmation trial of Double stack Dwarf Container Train under wire- a New Delivery Model.
- Flagging off the demonstration run of Ro-Ro(Roll on – Roll off) service across the National Capital Region- A Pilot project of Indian railways for ‘ Green Transportation’ – to reduce road congestion and improve environment.
The Govt, as usual, is very slow on reporting the details of this comprehensive Plan thus the information that we have is pretty patchy. But the market has been happy with only this much information too and all railway stocks across the board have been in the green.
All this sounds great and we do feel that with Prabhu at helm, he might actually achieve what he plans. But somewhere in the heart, the dream of traveling in a clean train, eat good, hygienic food, feel secure and enjoy Indian Railways remains distant. The initiatives taken are laudable but like all plans, as said earlier, it all depends on implementation and accountability.