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Railways need to reinvent itself, says panel


New Delhi: With the resource crunch severely eroding the financial credibility of railways, a Parliamentary panel today suggested the government should ensure that the proposed five-year investment plan serves as a stimulus package to assist the public transporter in its turnaround.

The panel, headed by former Railway Minister and TMC MP Dinesh Trivedi, also suggest that railway should strategically invest the available funds to fill the gaps by adopting a system based approach to improve the utilisation of the existing assets.

The Standing Committee on Railways attacked the functioning of Indian Railways, saying the public transporter
needs to reinvent itself and not shy away from social responsibilities to make it a “profit entity.”

Railways should have a clear and unambiguous perception of their role and their obligations to the nation, it said.

“….are they a commercial entity as they state with the profit motive or are they an organisation with the societal obligation with a billion plus of the country who use this facility everyday,” the Standing Committee on Railways wondered in its report tabled in Parliament today.

The comments assumes significance in the light of the fact that recent policies of railways reflect a gradual discouragement of taking up unviable projects.

The committee has said that railways have been afflicted by a deep routed malaise over the decades, the origin of which can be traced to travails of resource crunch.

It said that “if the profit motive is the sole criterion, then railways have failed themselves besides failing the country which prides itself as a welfare state.”

The 31-member panel has strongly recommended for an urgent imperative of a national policy of railways.

On the safety aspect, it expressed dissatisfaction on the performance of the Railways on safety-related issues. It has observed that allocation and utilisation for building road overbridge (ROB) and road underbridge (RUB) have consistently been on a downward trend.

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