Indian Railways needs to reduce expenditure to invest more in capacity building and improve safety and facilities for passengers, according to Jaiprakash Batra, former chairman, Railway Board.
Sanjay Ladiwala, chairman, Cement Stockists Association of Bombay, felt that while capacities of manufacturing companies have been increasing, railways has not been keeping pace with demand. “Lack of transport could lead to increasing prices in some regions,” Ladiwala said.
Batra and Ladiwala were part of the discussion on the Railway Budget 2014 on BoomNews’s show #IndiaHangout in association with Business Standard.
Vishwas Udgirkar, senior director, Deloitte, said: “It is now mportant to focus on announced plans. First priority has to be additional capacity for freight movements. High speed trains and bullet trains can come later.”
Batra was of the opinion that the ministry will have to take many more steps like the recent fare hike to correct the finances. “Railways lose almost Rs 26,000 crore every year due to passenger traffic. The hike would have covered only around Rs 5,000 crore. Railways does not have internal generation for modernisation and improving services.”
Batra was also of the view that introduction of high speed trains come at a price and it can be done only on some routes. “High speed trains will not cost anything less than Rs 170-200 crore per km.”
Ladiwala feels mechanisation of unloading and faster turnaround time could itself add a lot of carrying capacity. “Focus has to be on core activities. It is time for Railways to move out of non-core activities,” Batra said.