A two-day Conference of General Managers of Zonal Railways and Railway Production Units commenced here today i.e. 28th July 2016. The Conference was addressed by Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Communications & Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha and Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain. Chairman, Railway Board Shri A.K. Mital outlined the agenda and objectives of the Conference. The respective Board Members also presented their views at the Conference. Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu said that Railways is currently seeing transformation in a big way. He said that public representatives have a lot of expectations from the Railways and we have to work hard to come upto these expectations. Shri Suresh Prabhu said that Railways were expected to bring in socio economic change. In this context, we have been facing a number of challenges. If we have to run it as a commercial enterprise, we cannot fulfill social obligations and if we have to fulfill the social obligations, we cannot run it as a commercial enterprise. But we have to fulfill our social obligations while running this as a commercial enterprise. We need to strike a balance between Japanese and Chinese railway financial models. We have to increase our share of Non fare revenue. Shri Suresh Prabhu said that we have to constantly find ways to boost both our passenger as well as freight traffic.
He pointed out that for the first time the freight rates have been reduced by the Railways to attract traffic. He said that If we do not think about competition, we cannot improve. We should be remarkably sensible in our approach. Speed of operation is important. Something has to be done at the macro level. At the micro level, we should see how the competition is faring, etc. We therefore, have to properly make our pricing policy for both passenger and freight traffic. And at the same time we have to keep long term interest of the railways in mind. Referring to the need for expansion of the Railway infrastructure, Shri Suresh Prabhu said that “If you want to grow, you need to invest. If you want to invest, you need to find the way.” Money has to come from current income. But nowhere in the world it happens. China invests heavily for the development of their railways. Extra Budgetary resources are necessary for the development of railways. We must also invest in our Railways. We have already begun investment into railways system. If we do not, we cannot grow.
This year’s targets not only have to be met but to be exceeded. He called upon General Managers to be in regular touch with the respective Chief Ministers of the State with a view to facilitate execution of projects in that State. He pointed out that station redevelopment is an important component of non-fare revenue which is not possible without State Govt. support. Referring to the financial burden because of the implementation of 7th Central Pay Commission Shri Suresh Prabhu said that we have to work on cutting expenditure and Analyze operational and development issues and make out a strategy to deal with them. Shri Suresh Prabhu emphasized that we should ensure a time bound execution of projects. Station redevelopment is a priority for us. Joint Ventures with states are very much necessary. Railways cannot work only with our own resources. Hence, PPP route should be explored wherever possible. In zonal level, a small team of 2 to 3 people may be formed to deal with station redevelopment, joint ventures, etc. To benefit the states, we have already spoken to World Bank, IDFC, ICICI, etc. to fund the joint venture projects. A Holding company will take over many of the railways’ subsidiaries.
We are also working on many ideas to improve the functioning of the railways. The Ministers also emphasized on the need to adopt hundred percent transparency in the functioning of all aspect of the railways activity. He suggested that all GMs and DRMs should create a Special Cell and create competition among them to foster competition in transparency. He said that with the improved transparency, there would be savings and which can be ploughed back into the system for expansion. In railway workshops also, we must try to bring in a new work culture and make them profitable. He said that Railways has been taking lot of initiatives for the last two years and we need to put a system in place where every month, all the new initiatives taken by each zone should be put up. The Railway Minister also suggested that we should find a mechanism to make use of the experience of the retired railway officers with a view to get ideas for the improvements in railways functioning. Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Railways & Minister of State for Communication (Independent Charge) Shri Manoj Sinha said that Indian Railways has a glorious history and peoples’ expectations are very high from it.
He said that while railways has taken lot of initiatives for improving transparency but there are still some areas where better transparency needs to be ensured. He said that execution of projects which have already been sanctioned and which have assured funding should be executed expeditiously. Expressing concern over inadequate freight loading, the Minister said that we have to work hard to meet our targets. He said that we have already developed Deen Dayalu Coaches for the commonman and we now need to expedite introduction of Antyodya Express Trains for the common men. He also called upon all GMs to pay attention on increasing cases of red signal jumping and derailments which lead to serious safety issues. He said that it is the collective responsibility of the Railway Board and Zonal Railways to undertake project implementation in a time bound manner. Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain said that the modernization of the Railways is a joint responsibility of all officers/officials who all need to work as a team. He said that railways officers will have to focus on all those measures which can term it as the best department of the country. He also said that the coaches of the daily passenger trains need to be improved.