Piyush Goyal to continue Railway Reforms, eyes more exports at Commerce Ministry

NEW DELHI: The railway ministry will continue to work on reforms introduced by the previous government in order to improve the efficiency of the national carrier, said Piyush Goyal, who took charge of the ministry on Friday.

Goyal also took charge of the commerce and industry ministry.

“I would like to thank the Prime Minister for the trust he has reposed in me by giving me this opportunity to look after the commerce and industry ministry,” the minister said.

Goyal came to the ministry accompanied by outgoing commerce minister Suresh Prabhu.

“I have a lot to learn from my senior colleague Prabhu ji. I would continue to take his guidance and support,” he told reporters here.

The new commerce minister will have several tasks at hand like pushing India’s exports at a time when two large economies—the US and China—are engaged in a trade war. India’s merchandise exports grew 9% to $331 billion in 2018-19 amid liquidity squeeze but foreign direct investment inflows declined for the first time in six years in 2018-19, falling 1% to $44.37 billion. A host of policies such as the industrial policy and e-commerce policy are also waiting to be finalised.

Goyal, having achieved the lowest accident figures in his previous tenure as the railways minister, had repeatedly said his goal was to reach the zero accident standard.

Over the next five years, the government will try to improve the experience of Indian Railways as a service while also looking to increase the national transporter’s passenger and freight traffic, Goyal said.

“I am happy that there will be continuity in the work that we had begun in the first stint. The many works that we have started will be continued. I hope that we will be able to improve the passenger experience as well as the process of loading of goods,” he said The BJP had its manifesto promised ?100 lakh crore investment into the infrastructure sector over the next five years. The railways is expected to receive a large chunk of this investment. Market research firm ICRA on Thursday said up to ?12 lakh crore could be pumped into the sector for building dedicated freight corridors and on railway electrification.

The Indian Railways is aiming to achieve complete electrification in the next 3-4 years. The ministry is also expected to identify more bullet train corridors besides the Gujarat-Maharashtra project, which has been already announced.

“I hope we can take the work of railways to newer heights of innovative thinking, of growth both in passenger and freight traffic, newer speed of implementing infrastructure projects, and of customer satisfaction,” Goyal said.