Can’t compare Indian Railways to Chinese: Suresh Prabhu

Suresh Prabhu imageNew Delhi: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday asserted that Indian Railways can’t be compared to those of China and other developed countries. “What the Chinese have invested into railways is a mind boggling number. From 2009, they have put in more than 2 percent of their GDP whereas our share was 0.4 percent of our GDP.

“The Chinese economy, which is the second largest in the world, is worth $10 trillion, whereas ours id around $2 trillion. So there cannot be a comparison, but yes, we need more investment and we are finding out resources for that,” Prabhu said while replying to a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the railway budget.

“German railway had a debt of $16 billion while Chinese railways, before it was corporatised, had a debt of $428 billion, which roughly makes 25 percent of our entire GDP.

“Thus we are not able to do what Chinese railways managed to do. Even Japanese railways when it was worth $72 billion had a debt of $32 billion,” he said, insisting that Indian Railways must not be compared to railways of developed countries.

“PPP in railway is an old idea. The UPA government had approved it in 2006. We would need investment from outside the normal revenue stream as investing money is important,” Prabhu said, asserting that even then prime minister Manmohan Singh had recommended private investments to finance railway projects.

The railway minister termed the Pay Commission as another hindrance in managing railway finances. “It (7th Pay Commission) came into operation from January 1 this year. Railway was passing through testing times economically in the past one year and there was a pay commission. Every time when pay commission comes, the operating ratio drops dramatically but this is the first time it has not gone down,” he told the house, accepting that the railways “had a big problem in paying” its employees. Despite that we managed to keep a decent operating ratio. We had a problem on the income side and we faced problem while paying in terms of pay commission and bonuses as we had accepted a bonus act in this house where we had removed the minimum sealing. Railway had to bear the brunt and of course we were complaining later,” he said.

“Cleanliness has improved substantially in all parts of railway. It has improved inside the coaches. We have launched an SMS service named ‘Clean my coach’ which has been launched on all India basis. We have already started implementing the programmes which were announced during the budget,” he said.


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