NEW DELHI : Railways Minister Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw told, there are no plans or talks to privatise the Indian Railways, the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. “The track, stations, overhead cables, train engines, coaches, signalling system all belong to the railways. There is no talk of privatisation anywhere. My predecessor Piyush Goyal had already specified in the House that an organisation as complex as the Indian Railways cannot be privatised,” said Vaishnaw.
The minister was responding to the discussion on the demand for grants of the Railways.
Vaishnaw reiterated the Centre’s position that the Railways cannot be privatised as a whole. “Some members of the House have raised concern that freight trains are being privatised. This is not the case at all,” he said. “The government’s privatisation policy has clearly defined the Indian Railways as a strategic sector with social obligations. In light of these, there is no scope or discussion of privatisation of the Railways.”
Hghlighting the Budget targets in his speech, Vaishnaw said, “Today the railways ferries about 800 crore passengers in a year and 1,400 million tonnes of cargo on it. The Budget this year has estimated a revenue of about Rs 2 lakh crore and a capital investment of about Rs 2.5 lakh crore,” said Vaishnaw.
Commenting on the pace of rail infrastructure development, he said, “During 2009-14, only 1,520 km of new tracks, doubling, tripling, multi-tracking was done annually. This pace was doubled to 2,531 km per year during 2014-19. This year we have taken a target of 3,000 km and are changing the systems for that.”
According to official estimates, during 2014-21, development over 17,720 km – 3,681 km new lines, 4,871 km gauge conversion and 9,168 km doubling – was commissioned.
Vaishnaw said the railways has increased its share in cargo for the first time in 70 years.
Responding to a question on recruitments, Vaishnaw said only 242,709 appointments were made from 2009-14. Since 2014, there have already been 344,646 appointments, he said, and that the recruitment process is ongoing for 144,713 vacancies.