NEW DELHI: Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said that there was no move to privatise Indian Railways. However, the minister acknowledged that there were land acquisition issues in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious bullet train project and the matter was being discussed with farmers in Gujarat and Maharashtra. “We are not going to privatise railways and there are no plans too,” Goyal said while addressing a press conference.
Goyal has advanced the deadline for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project by one year to 2022. Farmers at some places are protesting over land acquisition for the project. On the project being criticized due to the huge investment of around Rs1 lakh crore, Goyal said that even the Rajdhani train had faced criticism from naysayers when it was introduced, and there was no parallel between the bullet train project and improving the existing railway infrastructure.
Giving details of safety-related measures taken by the ministry, Goyal said that consequential train accidents had dropped 62 per cent between 2013-14 and 2017-18. “Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh fund of Rs 1 lakh crore has been allocated for safety expenditure over five years. As many as 5,479 unmanned level crossings have been eliminated in the last four years. 1.1 lakh safety posts are also being filled up through recruitment, amongst other measures to improve safety,” said the minister. On the delay in setting up a rail regulator that would take a call on tariffs, Goyal said that the process to recruit members of the Rail Development Authority was on.
Achievements over the last four years
- 59% increase in average pace of commissioning of new lines in the last 4 years
- Consequential train accidents reduced 62% between 2013-14 and 2017-18
- SMS services started for 1,373 trains for informing passengers about any delay
- Freight earnings have shot up, with 12% increase expected over the previous year