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12988 - बारह नौ सौ अठासी , इसके नखरे हैं नवाबी ! - Keshav Saxena

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Sat Jul 20 16:50:38 IST
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News Entry# 384627
Jun 19 (21:17) Railways must rope in private sector in a big way (
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News Entry# 384627  Blog Entry# 4347324   
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The government’s reported plan to rope in private operators to run passenger trains on low congestion and tourist routes makes eminent sense.To start with, state owned Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation will be offered two trains to operate.
The intent of such an experiment would be to figure out the commercial viability. If the experiment is indeed successful, it could motivate private operators to bet their money on such operations when the Railways fully opens up such projects open to private participation.
With domestic tourism growing at a fast clip, there is
potential opportunity to make profits from investment.
So, the Railways, on its part, must invest hugely now to modernize the rail network — tracks and signaling –to raise the average speed and make train travel safe by prioritizing safety.
This, in turn, calls for strengthening the remit of the rail regulator whose job must be to ensure fair access, fix charges on the rail track, and set service and technical standards. The idea is to hold operators to account. It will also restore public confidence in the rail system. Tariffs can be left to the market, eventually.
The need now is to corporatise the Railways to enable private participation in a useful way. Umpteen panels from the Rakesh Mohan committee to Bibek Debroy committee had underscored the need to create organisational forms that will enable large-scale investments within the Railways.
A good example is the Konkan Railway Corporation that was created as a separate entity with state governments holding equity. Setting up different companies – some owning and running passenger and freight trains; another set owning tracks just as in the United Kingdom– that can compete with each will raise efficiency and motivate them to make profits.
So, the proposed plan move to corporatise units making coaches and rolling stock is welcome. A robust rail regulator is a must to oversee the process of corporatisation. Unions must see reason. Running the railways like a commercial enterprise could well pave the way to pay staff market-linked salaries, and put in place a proper incentive system.
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