Indiscriminate privatization of a large number of departmental activities in the Indian Railways – AIRF writes to Railway Minister
D.O.No.AIRF/24(C) Dated: October 9, 2019
Resp. Shri Piyush Goyal Ji,
Sub: Indiscriminate privatization of a large number of departmental activities in the Indian Railways
Kindly call for our Memorandum, bearing number AIRF/24(C) dated 4th October, 2019, addressed to your goodself, wherein AIRF had drawn your kind attention towards our viewpoint in respect of handing over of certain important trains to the private entrepreneurs to undertake various activities of perennial nature.
It is needless to repeat here that, as a Government Department, Indian Railways is plying more than 22,000 pairs of trains everyday and carrying roughly 25 million passengers from one place to another besides remarkable quantum of freight.
Railwaymen have always stood to the occasion to adopt latest technologies in all spheres of rail operation, i.e. rolling stock, signaling, track, operation etc. They are fully committed to serve the Nation by providing quality services to rail users, but under the limitation of resources and manpower.
Your goodself may appreciate that, Railwaymen have in-house manufactured Train Sets(Train 18) indigenously which are plying successfully on two routs, as per directives of the Government of India, i.e. one between New Delhi and Varanasi and another between New Delhi and Katra. State-of-the-art technology locomotives, i.e. three-phase ABB electrical locomotives, are also being manufactured by the Railwaymen in CLW and DLW. Apart from this, coaches equipped with updated facilities and technologies are successfully manufactured at even lower than their original import cost. A High Speed Train, named “Gatimaan Express”, is also being run at a speed of 160 kmph. between Hazrat Nizamuddin and Agra Cantt. without any hindrance.
Your goodself may also appreciate that, in case the government intends to provide faster and comfortable services to the rail users, there is urgent need to upgrade signaling by track circuiting and laying additional tracks on busy routes which are already being utilized over and above their optimum capacity. The government is already providing funds for infrastructure development in the country by constructing highways, but unfortunately, budgetary support to the Indian Railways, for adding new assets, rolling stock, track, signaling etc., is declining day-by-day. On the other hand, Indian Railways has not been given liberty in fixation of fare etc. for its services, as a result of which, around 36,000 crore of rupees are lost by the Railways on carrying subsidized traffic every year.
AIRF is, therefore, of firm opinion that, decision of the government to handover certain profit earning trains to private agencies would definitely result in further deteriorating financial health of the Indian Railways, and it would neither be in the interest of the Railwaymen, nor beneficial for common rail users of the country, who quantify to the tune of more 90% of the total passenger traffic, for whom Railways is the most convenient and cheap mode of transport in this country. Government of India’s commitment to provide secure accommodation to each and every passenger can definitely be ensured in case necessary input is provided to the existing system by way of laying additional tracks, upgrading the signaling system and additional rolling stock.
Your goodself is also aware that, there is complete industrial peace prevailing on the Indian Railways for the last around five decades because of mutual understanding between Ministry of Railways and the Staff Federations and during this long span of time, various technological changes the Indian Railways has undergone with the cooperation of the Railwaymen, and they are also committed to serving the rail users in more better way with dedication and devotion, even by sacrificing their precious lives, as already acknowledged by the High Level Safety Review Committee, constituted by the Ministry of Railways, under the Chairmanship of Dr. Anil Kakodkar, a few years back, in its report.
It is worth-mentioning here that, the Chief Executive Officer, NITI Aayog vide D.O. letter No.14031/05/2019-PPPAU dated 07.10.2019, addressed to the Chairman, Railway Board, has requested to constitute a Committee, comprising of the CAO, NITI Aayog, Chairman, Railway Board, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs with Member Traffic and Member Engineering as “Co-opted Members”, to go ahead with the government’s decision to bring in private train operators for passenger train operation.
It is worthwhile to mention here that, during the UPA Government also, the then Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia, had issued similar letter, addressed to the then Chairman, Railway Board, however, it could not be considered appropriate to take such a decision and to continue the Indian Railways in the present shape.
Any move to shift the existing time tested system to uncertain system, by involving private agencies in train operation, is bound to create uncalled for industrial unrest in the Indian Railways, as the Railwaymen are badly perturbed on this account.
We sincerely hope that, the above facts shall be taken in right perspective, and the decision of the Ministry of Railways to allow private agencies to operate certain trains would be withdrawn in the larger interest of the industry and the rail users.
With Kind Regards,
(Shiva Gopal Mishra)
Source : AIRF