High-level Railway Meet on 19 June

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stress on accelerating decision-making to bring the economy back on track seems to have rubbed off on the railways.

For the first time, the railway top brass will deliberate on urgent steps needed to speed up decision-making in the state-run transporter at a meeting of General Mangers (GMs) and Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) on Thursday.

The meeting of senior officials at the zonal and divisional level will also discuss measures to cut down expenditure at a time when the railways is reeling under financial stress.

The transporter is facing a loss of Rs 30 crore every day after it was forced to take back the passenger fare and freight hike based on automatic fuel adjustment component announced in May.

An official said payments to contractors had to be deferred while several pending projects were struck due to skewed finances.

The officials are expected to be quizzed on steps needed to raise funds through innovative methods. The focus would be on prioritizing long-pending projects while emphasizing on urgency to maintain austerity and the need to generate more financial resources.

The railways requires around Rs 4.5 lakh crore to complete around 586 projects — laying of new lines, electrification of existing ones, doubling of lines, upgrading railway stations and more — which are underway.

However, railways annual budget is around Rs 1.36 lakh crore of which 72% goes towards salaries.

Railways has asked all its divisions to furnish details of projects pending for want of clearances from the ministry of environment and forests and other departments. The top brass is also likely to stress on safety and “improved” passenger amenities, including cleanliness at stations and platforms.

The transporter is expected to play a key role in Modi’s attempt to revive the economy as the President in his address to the joint session of Parliament had said, “Lack of robust infrastructure is one of India’s major impediments… A fast-track, investment friendly and predictable PPP mechanism will be put in place.”

He added that modernization and revamp of railways was on top of the infrastructure agenda.