Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday referred to the famous 'railgaadi' song of actor Ashok Kumar while stressing the need for support of the private sector to accelerate the development of the railways. He dismissed speculations of privatisation of the railway network, but highlighted the need for a public-private partnership funding model for the sector.
"Some trains are still chugging (moving slowly) like actor Ashok Kumar's 'railgaadi' song (due to lack of infrastructure)," Goyal told reporters, referring to the song from Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 1968 film "Aashirwad".
The film is remembered for the rap-like "railgaadi' song performed by legendary actor late Ashok Kumar.
"We want to end the era of slow-moving trains by making way for the fast speed-driven MEMU and electric trains, like the trains being run in suburban Mumbai (with the help of private sector)," Goyal said while advocating for reforms in the railways.
Piyush Goyal on private investments in railways
Asked about the opposition to private investments, Goyal said, "The common public is not opposing it. You might be noticing the noise elsewhere. In fact, people are welcoming that the railway is entering a new era."
He said the railways wants to attract an investment of Rs 50 lakh crore in next 12 years to expand the facilities in passenger and goods trains through modernisation.
"This big investment is impossible through the railway and government budgets. So, the way out is to work on a public-private partnership (PPP) model," he said.
Due to inadequate investments in railways in the past, the government machinery faced the burden, he said, adding that the demand of ticket-seekers in some trains was more than 150 per cent.
Allaying fears of privatisation of the railway network, Goyal said, "The Indian Railways is a treasure of the country and its people. This will continue and reins of the railways will remain with the government."
Special train from Ujjain to Varanasi
Piyush Goyal also announced that a special train will soon operate from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh to Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi, which is famous for the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
The train will be run by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, the minister said.
Before talking to reporters, the minister offered prayers at the Mahakaleshwar Temple in neighbouring Ujjain. A huge number of devotees from the country and abroad come to the temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Goyal said tenders have been issued recently for the infrastructure development and revival of facilities at five railway stations in the country under the PPP model.
He also said that tenders may be issued in the coming days to develop Indore and other railway stations in the country under this model.