New Delhi: The Narendra Modi – led NDA government will roll out plans to revamp the slouching Indian railways shortly. Two days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s new government presents its first general budget, a separate Rail budget will be presented in the parliament.
Analysts say that this “lifeline” of the nation requires hundreds of billions to get it into shape.
Indian Railway system is one of the biggest in the world, stretching from the foothills of the Himalayas to the shores of the Indian Ocean.
But negligence and callous attitude of the successive governments had prevented it from growing even when the economy was growing fast.
Not only this, Indian Railways has failed to offer world class amenities to its passengers unlike other sectors of transportation like airways, roadways and Radio Taxis.
Even today, trains are the main form of long-distance travel for most people. In India over 23 million out of 1.2 billion people travel by train every day.
But some services are booked up for weeks in advance and it's always overcrowded. General and sleeper class carriages lack air-conditioning. This results in rail journey often becoming a miserable experience.
The Rail network has a dreadful safety record. Recently, at least four people were killed while eight others were injured as the Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express (a prestigious train) derailed near Chapra in Bihar.
Many people are killed falling off overcrowded trains or crossing the tracks. Food served in the trains is unhygienic and so are the platform conditions.
While fares remained low, the Railway Ministry's losses grew ever higher and it was draining at a loss of almost Rs 900 Crore per month.
The BJP in its manifesto pledged to improve safety, expand services in the remote northeast and build a network of freight corridors for farm produce. Within a month of the party coming to power, the government hiked passenger fares by 14.2 percent and freight rates by 6.5 percent.
This created a ruckus in the nation. Railways are the lifeline of India and people across all economic diversity are dependent on it. With 14.2% passenger fare hike, the commoners are wondering why their elected representatives have overlooked the hardship they will have to face after this steep hike.
The opposition has seized this opportunity to attack the government to the hilt.
But the question here is that will the series of ‘hard choices and bitter medicine' of the Modi – led government bear fruit or it will fail to make any difference as far as facility for commuters is concerned. As of now, the public is waiting with crossed fingers for the most anticipated rail budget of newly elected government.