Railways will not be privatised but investments needed for modernisation: Piyush Goyal, Minister for Railways
If someone brings in new technology, or is ready to build modern stations, or wants to run a semi or high speed train, they should be welcomed as it is work for the good of the country. It is a patriotic deed which we must all welcome irrespective of party affiliations, said Piyush Goyal.
The opposition which is bereft of concrete ideas after the drubbing it received in the recent general elections has resorted to nitpicking in the 17th Lok Sabha. The opposition led by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused the government of giving away the railways to private entities in a bid to privatize it. Responding to the accusations during the debate on Demands for Grants of the railways, Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal highlighted the achievements of the Narendra Modi led government in Railways and said that investment from private entities will be required to achieve bigger targets in modernisation, adapting to technology and to meet upcoming challeges.
In his speech Piyush Goyal stated that PM Narendra Modi's government had worked without discrimination in the last 5 years due to which the country has progressed rapidly on the path of development and progress. Consequently, the Railways have also worked at a faster pace to reach developmental targets.
Giving an example of the intent of the governemnt, Piyush Goyal said, "Bomb blasts took place on Mumbai trains on July 11, 2006. Despite such a huge incident, no action was taken. However, if it was the Modi government, the petpetrators would have been answered in the same breath", he said.
Responding to the accusations of privatizing the Railways, he said there is no question of privatizing the railways. However, if someone brings in new technology, if someone is ready to build a modern station, or wants to run a semi or high speed train, such initiatives should be welcomed as it is work for the good of the country. It is a patriot deed which we must all welcome irrespective of party affiliations, he said. Between 2004 and 2009, there were approximately 206 accidents per year and between 2009 and 2011, there was an average of 153 accidents per year. During our period the rate of accidents dropped to below 100. In the coming years, the broad gauge network of Indian Railways will become 100% electrified. Newer stations with modern amenities will have to be built to accommodate the population and hence modernization is the need of the hour both for safety and effective functioning of the Railways, said Piyush Goyal.
Below are excerpts from Railway Minister Piyush Goyal's response to the Lok Sabha on July 12th, 2019:
"Indian Railways has worked prominently in the development of the country since independence and even during the freedom struggle. If Gandhiji had probably not been thrown out of the train in South Africa, then history could have taken a different turn. Hence, I would like to pay tribute to Gandhiji on this occasion. Railways is an organization that works 24 hours and 365 days of the year. I would like to thank each of the 13 lakh employees of the Railways for their hard work.
Railways has developed drastically under Modi Ji's regime. In the 5 years between 2009 and 2014 only about 3,038 kms of railway lines were electrified, while we electrified 13,687 kms in 5 years. In 2013-14, about 650 kms were electrified and in the same duration of one year in between 2017-18, we electrified 4,087 kms. Between 2018-19, we have electrified 5,200 kms of Railway lines. This is where the difference between those who win and those who lose lies. The losers look at problems and the winners look at goals.
In the last 64 years, cargo has increased by nearly 1300%, and passenger traffic has increased by about 1,642%. However, until Modi came to power the sector was neglected with lack of investments. After Modi became PM, the investments in cargo has increased almost two and a half times. A tea seller who saw the country through the railways in his younger days by selling tea in trains, can best understand the role of railways in the country. The country which used to Railway budgets where new trains and lines were announced only to win elections, Narendra Modi ended such a farcical practice. The thrust is on performance and not announcements.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor was started in 2007. But for a period of 7 years i.e between 2007 and 2014, not a single kilometer of the freight track was laid. When we came to power we took the task into our own hands, and in the last 5 years have completed linking of 1,900 kms of tracks for the dedicated freight corridor. Likewise, if the facilities of the railways are to be increased then it will have to invest in it naturally. We want the capacity of the railways to increase and hence we decided that we will encourage public private partnership and some parts will have to be corporatized. We are all committed to the welfare of the country and the Finance Minister has laid out the detailed picture of the future in front of us on how the country will progress.
We have emphasized on modernization of Railways and for the betterment of the country and with the convenience of the public in mind, irrespective of political affiliations we should all give our inputs on the ways the Railways can serve better. ICF coaches have been made in India for years but there were no changes in design and the same coaches were being used. People dies in the accidents due to these coaches. 30 years ago a new design of the more secure LHB coach came to India and we decided to make just LHB coaches. Today there is not a single new ICF coach made in the country. The benefits of automatic signaling system is there for all to see in the entire country. If the government initiates investment for such new projects, I would have expected that the opposition will endorse it by thinking above petty politics. During 2007-08, Modern Coach Factory was started in Rae Bareli but till 2014 not a single coach was made here. The coaches made in Kapurthala and Chennai were re-painted and were claimed to have been produced here. But we want Raebareli's factory to be able to produce 5,000 coaches and strengthen our industry. We want that the coaches made here as part of Make in India should to the whole world.
There is no question of privatizing the railways. However, if someone brings in a new technology, and are ready to build modern stations, or want to run semi or high-speed trains, they should be invited as it is nothing but a patriotic work for the good of the country. Between 2004 and 2009, there were approximately 206 accidents per year and between 2009 and 2011, there was an average of 153 accidents per year. During our period the rate of accidents dropped to below 100. In the coming years, the broad gauge network of Indian Railways will become 100% electrified, thereby saving diesel of thousands of crores. Consequently foreign exchange will survive, as well as it will have a major impact in the environment. Newer stations with modern amenities will have to be built to accommodate the population and hence modernization is the need of the hour both for safety and effective functioning of the Railways.
Between 2004 and 2009, there were approximately 206 accidents per year. Between 2009 and 2011, 153 accidents per year, and in our time it dropped below 100. In the coming years, the broad gauge network of Indian Railways will become 100% electrified, thereby saving diesel of thousands of crores. Foreign exchange will be saved and this will have a major impact in the economic environment of the country. The Vande Bharat express is seeing nearly 100 percent occupation from the first day of its launch and it is serving the passengers well. Going forward, nearly 58,400 coaches will need upgraded bathrooms and toilets. A total of 2,40,000 bio-toilets have to be installed out of which nearly 210,000 bio-toilets have already been installed till date.
Even after 67 years after independence, the old system of recording train times were being used by the station master who used to write the time when the train station reached and left. This was not correct and mistakes were made. We applied automated data loggers, thereby improving the maintenance of timings. One of the the oldest Railway projects is still under progress in West Bengal which is running from 1974-75. The project is not completed as the government has not even acquired the land for the project. But if we get the land, then we will start working immediately. Another such project had started in 1983-84 which was to lay rail lines for approximately 163 kms but due to the state government not able to procure land, almost 76 kilometers is still to be laid. Many such works have been on hold as the West Bengal government is stubborn and not procuring the required land. Another project in Kerala is going on since 24 years in Guruvayoor as the government has not been able to finalize on the location and has not even surveyed an area. The Sabarimala railway project from Angamaly was announced in the budget 20 years. It was mandated that the Government of Kerala will bear 50% of the cost but now the state government has refused to adhere to its own committment. While all states adhere to such committments, going back on their word will not help the cause."