Indian Railways may go Amtrak way sans Funds: Suresh Prabhu

Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu while inaugurating Comrade Umraomal Purohit Memorial Research Centre in All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) Office in New Delhi, refers to the Amtrak Railway System of USA

suresh prabhu on amtrakNew Delhi: The Indian Railways needs massive investments to remain sustainable or it risks meeting the same fate as beleaguered American rail utility Amtrak, Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said.

“There is a need for investment in Railways. In China, the investment in railways is about Rs. 9 to 10 lakh crore whereas here it is Rs. 40,000 crore a year…as a result, rail traffic is going to the other sectors. So, we have decided to enhance investment into the rail sector and it will go up in the coming years,” Mr. Prabhu said after inaugurating the Late Comrade Umraomal Purohit Memorial Research Centre here.

Minister of Railways today inaugurated Comrade Umraomal Purohit Memorial Research Centre situated in All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) Office Complex, 4, State Entry Road, New Delhi. AIRF has taken initiative for the establishment of this center which will prove to be a mile stone in the history of Labour movement as all kind of Research work related to Trade Union Movement in India as also in foreign countries will be undertaken here. The center will also maintain digital database both from national and international sources which will cover labour related issues as well as issues pertaining to railway safety and railway infrastructure. The center will be open to all railwaymen and other interested persons. The centre will conduct research related to trade union movement in India and abroad.

Learning from Amtrak

Speaking on the occasion, he said, Indian Railways may suffer a similar fate as the U.S. railroad service Amtrak, which suffered due to lack of timely investment, citing a research report.

“We should learn from Amtrak. They did not invest in it so its future is doomed. According to a research report, Indian Railways was also suffering because of lack of investments on the lines of what happened to Amtrak. There is a need for investment in railways,” Mr. Prabhu said.

The Railways market share in freight has eroded over the years. The share of railways in the total transportation of freight traffic has declined from 89 per cent in 1950-51 to 36 per cent in 2007-08.

In his second Budget this year, Mr. Prabhu announced increasing investments by 21 per cent to Rs 1.21 lakh crore in 2016-17. The Railways intends to spend Rs 8.5 lakh crore over the next four years.

On this occasion, Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital and other Board Members, senior officials of Railway Board, Northern Railway and Delhi Division were present. Shri Rakhal Das Gupta, President, AIRF gave the welcome address while Shri Shiv Gopal Mishra, General Secretary, AIRF presented the importance of Research Center. The office bearers of other Railway Unions and Associations were among those present on the occasion. Shri J.R. Bhosale, Treasurer, AIRF proposed the Vote of Thanks.

Suresh Prabhu inaugurates "Late Com. Umraomal Purohit Memorial Research Centre
Suresh Prabhu inaugurates “Late Com. Umraomal Purohit Memorial Research Centre

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu said that it is really a matter of great pleasure that a Union of Indian Railways has taken a different kind of initiative of setting up of a research center on labour issues and issues pertaining to railway operations like safety.

Congratulating AIRF for this initiative, Shri Suresh Prabhu said that AIRF has presented a new benchmark in the labour movement. Stressing on the importance of two rails (tracks) which are essential for the successful railway operations, Shri Suresh Prabhu pointed out that the Railway management on the one hand represents ‘one rail’ while the ‘second rail’ is represented by railway personnel and both have to work together for the success and progress of the Indian Railways. Referring to the Amtrak Railway System of USA, the Minister said that the studies have shown that this Railway network got derailed because they did not make timely enough investment into the system to ensure its steady growth. Similarly, there was lot of concern in India that not enough investment was made into the Indian Railway system over the years, hampering its expansion and modernization, Shri Suresh Prabhu said that we took a momentous decision of enhancing investment into the rail sector and save railway from under investment.

Now the tempo of investment is continuing and more and more funds will continue to be invested in the railways in the years to come. Secondly, we are focusing on bringing in best technology to ensure fully safe railway operations. We are also concentrating on more investment in Research and Development. He said that we have to take parallel steps in all directions and in all respects of railway operation to achieve integrated objectives. Referring to the best industrial relations between railway management and railway staff, Shri Suresh Prabhu said that this has become possible because the management and the staff side are both committed towards the common goal of making the Indian Railway healthy and growth oriented.

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