This refers to the edit “Fast trains at slow speed” (March7). Having partially privatised most of the transport sector, there is no reason to babysit Indian Railways (IR) in the face of increased passenger traffic and continued slippage in share of cargo movement by the IR. The proposal to privatise 50 stations and introduce 150 trains is too little to make any dent in railways’ fortunes, given the sheer size of the railway network. The Rakesh Mohan Committee Report of 2002 must be salvaged from railway godowns and action must be taken to corporatise Indian Railways. A railways regulatory body set up in the same lines in other sectors of the economy where private sector is making valuable contributions.
The railways spend around 67 per cent of its income on salaries and pensions with the latter consuming around 30 per cent. Since no provisions have been made by the railways since its inception toward meeting the pension liabilities and with 1.5 million pensioners to fend for, there is little left for improvement in facilities and modernisation. Probably, the solution lies in sequestering the pension payments from the railways balance sheet which can provide much needed capital for railways’ regeneration.
Ganga Narayan Rath, Hyderabad
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