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Railway Budget - A Lost Cause


Railway Budget - A Lost Cause

By Ayush Prasad

Mar 13: The East India Company introduced Railways in India in 1853 and by 1924-25, it has grown to an extent that its budget was separated from Annual Government Budget. By 1947, there were 41 Railway Systems that was integrated into one unit in 1951. Today Indian Railways carries 3 Crore (30million) passengers and 2.8million tons of freight everyday on 65,000 km of routes & between 7500 stations. It reaches all but two Indian states of Sikkim and Meghalaya.
 
By 1947, the British Indian Government had built over 50,000 km of Railways and in almost 65 years since Independence, we have only added 15000 km. India has lowest Railway lines per square kilometer- India is 226, USA is 263 and while Germany is 450. In the 1800s, Railways brought about the Industrial Revolution in the US & Europe. It connected inland towns with sea-ports. It weaved the local economies together to form a national and continental economy. It was also one of the important factors responsible for America's prosperity.
 
India was the only country where it did not spur industrial growth; instead caused unemployment by helping imported goods read inland markets. Even today, Railway has only helped growth but has not become a central cause to drive it. But railways did play a very important socio-political role in India. India was a land of 562 princely states and 13 British colonies that became 1 nation because it was woven together by the Railway lines. Caste and religious divisions were broken down in the railway compartment.
 

Railways Today
 
Railways remains as relevant today as it was a hundred years ago. Thousands of people can travel over long distances comfortably. It is the most economical and quickest mode of mass transit. In 2009, the Obama Administration in the United States invested heavily in modernizing Railroads as a method to boost the economy. The Communist Government in China has modernized 8000 km of the 10200 km long Railways so that it can operate at over 200 km an hour. Railways have taken export oriented industries from shore side cities to inland China.

 
Indian Railway
 
Shatabdi is the fastest train in India and it runs at an average speed of 120 km/hr which is almost four times slower than the fastest train in China that have an average speed of over 450 km/hr. Most Indian trains run at speeds of around 80 km/hr. Short-distance trains have several stops, which further increases the journey time.
 
Indian Railways is one of the most unsafe mass-transit systems in the world. Over 15,000 people lose their lives every year in Indian Railway accidents. Over 202 people get injured in Railway accidents every day. According to expert studies, Indian Passenger Railway coaches have been designed to operate at maximum speeds of 56 km/hr and over 43,000 coaches operate at average speeds of 80 km/hr every day. Unlike aircrafts, Indian Railways have no evacuating procedures. In all major accidents, at least two deaths have been a result of a stampede.
 
Indian Railways have not taken any steps to become more disability friendly. Disabled passengers are usually not provided with any wheel-chair or assistance to board a train. Even State Transport Corporation in several states has taken several proactive steps. Unlike Airlines, Railway assistants are not trained to assist, in case of any medical emergency.
 
Railway Stations in India have been voted in the most unhygienic public utilities in the world. Though few amenities have improved such as drinking water, waiting rooms & battery operated carts to assist passengers. But they are micro steps in larger problems that trouble Indian Railways. The proposal to build Rail Corridors, similar to Golden Quadrilateral has been gathering dust due to fear of land acquisition.
 
Indian Railway is amongst the worst polluters in India. The open excreta on the tracks emit methane which is a greenhouse gas. All trains run on electricity provided by Thermal Power Station or on Diesel Engines. Railways have a lot of land and built up structures all of which could be used for extensive power generation thru solar power station.

 
What troubles Indian Railways?
 
The wide spectrum of in-house skills has led to self-sufficiency within the Indian Railways. Since 1996, the Minister of Indian Railways has been a member of a regional party. Both of these have contributed to a sense of independence and alienation of the Railways within the Government.
 
Over the years, the Indian Railways have developed unions and cadre of officers who are fearful and averse to change. They are stuck in the status quo and the box has become so large that no new ideas have come from the Railway Board in the last 10 years. The R&D center in Lucknow is only in name and has no functional utility. The political leadership has not given any vision or direction.
 
Due to lack of competition, the quality of services is amongst the poorest in the world. Trains are not started on a scientific basis but on whims and fancies of politicians. Improvements such as gauge conversion or electrification occur at snail rate. Due to excessive government control, Railway Engineering has not developed as a discipline in India unlike in East Asia, USA & Europe.
 
The Railway Budget is also not a correct representation of the financial situation. They are not audited according to international standards. Sudden payment of dues and increase in freight led to revenue surplus for 5 years during the last government, it model was not sustainable. Liabilities are often not accounted in the budget.
 

Conclusion
 
Railway needs capital investment and a comprehensive plan backed with conviction to modernize itself. It has skilled manpower that should be used to position Indian Railways in the 21st Century to engine & lead India’s growth story. Though, Railways will continue to play an important role in Indian society & economy regardless of its modernizing efforts but it could contribute much more to India if it modernizes.

 

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Comment on this article

  • Lavin Noronha, Paladka/Bahrain

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    @Harsha Malhotra, Mangalore/New Delhi, why India has to be in commonwealth? Now India can buy Britain. The concern is how much right we have given to our own citizens. Are our own 50 to 70 live under poverty line (including me). First let us clean our house then we will talk about British. Even i don’t want to talk about this but this is my intuition that India would have been much more powerful with British rather than these wastes in our parliament. I mean business.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Lavin Noronha, Paladka/Bahrain

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    @Harsha Malhotra, Mangalore/New Delhi. I have no two words about oonpina and thinpina. Why i am sarcaritc is there are some people valentine is foreign but railway is indian(even it was brought by british). Why this double standard. If you have guts to stand up to west in all ways then fine but dont swipe out west as in this world no one can live with out west. Am i right this is realitiy and face it.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ravindranath shetty, Mangalore

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    The policy agenda of TMC is not to increase the railway fare. Contrary to the expectation, Railway ministry has made proposal to increase the Fare. This will result in inflation. Railways should havce made use funds from source like earlier years.Growth projection will have impact.What is needed is roll back of Fare as desired by the people and party supremo

    DisAgree [2] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Gerald, modankap-bantval

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    DINESH POOJARY AS LOUIS SAID, FROM BIRTH TO DEATH WE ARE STILL DEPENDING ON BRITISH SYSTEM!!! EVEN YOUR "BJP" IS A PART OF THEIR SYSTEM. THE BRITISHERS LOOTED BUT THEY HAVE GIVEN US A LOT AND TODAY WE SEE THE MODERN WORLD BECAUSE OF BRITISH. I AM NOT PRO BRITISH BUT SAME TIME I AM NOT A UNGRATEFUL UNLIKE OUR OWN POLITICIAN LOOTING OUR OWN PEOPLE USING ALL THE RESOURCES TO FILL THEIR FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNTS AND MAKE THE POOR MORE POORER.

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Louis, Kuwait

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    Thanks to British for introducing Raiways in India. Else we would have been using Bullok carts as means of transport even today. In Bombay in Bellard Pear there are buildings built by British no need of Maintainence since last 400 yrs. Our new buildings n bridges are collapsing during construction. Thanks to British for the beautiful roads they planned. Our new roads need dammer every year. Last but not the least they introduced funny language yes no sorry English.

    Which is national language now in place of Hindi. We cannot live or transact anything without using this funny language. All those critics cannot comment without using this language they need to remember the British from birth to death. No life without English. God bless British else we would have still fighting with each other under kits rule n population would have reduced 50 crores. May God givepeace Robert Clive soul. He he ha.

    DisAgree [9] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ronald D, Udupi

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    Dinesh Poojary, atleast British gave quality products and job well done. Quality of work today is sub standard! Money meant for better quality goes into the politicians pocket. BJP is no exception. They need money for operation Kamala!!
    We can get better railway facility if our MP/ MLA's get out of deep sleep and put pressure for better rail utilities. Their energy is totally invested into religion and cast based politics! If little time left....they want to watch funny clips in assembly!!

    DisAgree [6] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Harsha Malhotra, Mangalore/New Delhi

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    Ms.Lavin Noronha, Paladka/Bahrain

    oonipna thinpina jopuna in india..
    praising western countries... do you know how many countries they have looted more than fifty-four which come under common wealth..!!

    hindustan is prosperous country earlier.. and today..will remain tommorow..!! golden bird..attacked by looters time-to-time..!! hindustan is nothing but 'akshaye-patare'..!! kohinoor diamond and throne still with britishers..!! where they stand now..!!

    DisAgree [5] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nilabh Shekhar, Begusarai

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    Railway Factory in Kolar!!!

    When entrepreneur opens a factory, he studies the location and ensures it has good facilities, raw material and man-power. But not Indian Railways!

    Indian Railways has a one step process- it simply checks the name of the constituency of it's two Ministers of State and establishes a factory there. These factories would waste money of the railways. This is important at a time when funds are in short supply

    DisAgree [1] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Lavin Noronha, Paladka/Bahrain

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    Is railways not western culture? We should not adopt western culture instead need to preserve Indian culture may be with "borida gadi". I am being sarcastic.

    DisAgree [9] Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • NAUFAL, UDDABETTU

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    SAFETY SHOULD BE THE TOP PRIORITY OF RAILWAY.

    DisAgree Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • D.Shetty, Mangalore , Dubai

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    Until unless we discard the reservation scheme and give way for merit recruitment nothing will improve.We need brains in all department to think future. And we should have politicians who can serve the country and not serving themselves ...would be a dream ....

    DisAgree [2] Agree [17] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sneha H, Udupi

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    Well !! We cant compare our nation to China.. Ofcourse improvement should produce in every field !! Hope everything will be great in 10 years if our political leaders are work together for nation !!

    DisAgree [1] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dinesh Poojary, Kundapura/Bengaluru

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    Gerald, modankap-bantval

    They looted 99999 Rs and 1 Rs (in a lac) they used for development. Congress also doing the same now.

    DisAgree [10] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Bhandarkar, M

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    How can the 'Title' befit the story? The railway budget is an annual event and in many cases without any intent! All the things in the article should be taken as read while listening
    to this 'budget'! The 'lost cause' is always for those who live in D>K. because of it's spineless leaders who still believe in  'Paadi Majji Podu Puge!!"

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vincent, Mangalore

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    And we Indians are keen to blame the British and for that matter Western Culture for everything that ails our deteriorating systems till this day. We blame foreign powers for looting India. Today that Indians are in Power, have the current breed of Politicians reversed that trend???

    Today Indians are educated (in English) and are technologically well advanced in the world.

    We perhaps with greater intensity, need to contemplate the indirect contribution of the past Rulers of India (mostly those that came from foreign shores) to our current world standing today.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rajesh , Brahmavara

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    Indian politicians still boast Indian Railway is the best public transport mode in the world. This article reflects the rotten Indian Government system.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [31] Reply Report Abuse

  • Gerald, modankap-bantval

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    RAMESH, SANDESH, AMIN AND DINESH SHOULD READ THIS BEFORE CURSING BRITISH WHAT THEY LEFT BEHIND TO US COMPARING TO BJP IN KARNATAKA I THINK BRITISHERS ARE FAR FAR AND FAR BETTER @@@!!!!!!!

    DisAgree [13] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dinesh Poojary, Kundapura/Bengaluru

    Wed, Mar 14 2012

    "India has added only 15000 km in last 65 years" - There is some problem with this statistics..

    Anyway, hoping for new Bangalore-Karwar night train announcement today.

    Muniyappa, namma mele nimma MUNISU yenu?

    DisAgree [5] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

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