Addressing the audience comprising of delegates from across a wide spectrum of the Corporate sector, Public sector and senior Railway officials etc., Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu made a strong pitch to formulate the growth plans for Indian Railways on the basis of new ideas and innovative decisions to suit to the current realities. The need of the hour is to understand the symptoms ailing the organization first, correct identification of the problem areas next and then drawing up the required prescription for solution, he stated.
Noting that there are large number of demands from people/public representatives for new rail lines and more number of train services, the Honble Minister stated that the present infrastructure of Indian Railways is inadequate to cope up with these demands. The immediate requirement is to enhance the capacities on railways to decongest the routes and vertical expansion in cities towards upgrading the network / infrastructure, he added. As money is needed to modernize Indian Railways and also keeping in view the present fiscal constraints, Railways has to explore all possible means to mobilize resources to develop a high class infrastructure to cater to the future needs, stressed Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu. He highlighted that Indian Railways needs investments both financial and technological – from various sources both within and outside. Towards this, Railways is exploring to draw investments from new sources such as foreign pension funds and other institutions, he stated.
The Honble Railway Minister categorically stated that Indian Railways is never going to be privatized and that it continues to be owned by the Govt. of India. The driving wheel of Indian Railways will firmly be in the hands of Railway Ministry only, he stressed. Describing the task of upgrading and modernizing Indian Railways as a National challenge, Shri Suresh Prabhu stated that it is in the interest of Indian Railways and its Employees that investments from all sources should be mobilized for this task. He emphasized that any decision being taken by the Govt. on PPP / FDI etc. is clearly aimed at enabling growth of Railways and the economy. He cautioned that there should not be any communication gap with the employees on this subject and that the interest of railways will be paramount in any new policy decision. He further stated that efficiency and productivity in railway working shall also be improved to generate more revenue. Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu also spoke of plans to induct the best of technologies to modernize Railways duly involving scientific and research organisations such as DRDO and ISRO.
Shri E. S. L. Narasimhan, Honble Governor of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh stated in his address that Indian Railways has come a long way from the earlier days to evolve as a modern transport system offering improved options and facilities. However, keeping in view the need to meet the future demand, it is rightly in the interest of Indian Railways that PPP and FDI should be encouraged, he stated. Noting that the FDI guidelines clearly identify the key areas for investment, the Honble Governor stressed that prioritization is very important so that the resources are spent in areas which fulfill the needs of common man. He stressed that removal of Unmanned Level Crossings, providing safe and secure travel, cleanliness and hygienic catering services on Railways should be given due priority.
Earlier, Shri D.P. Pande, Member/Traffic, Railway Board and President, CTRAM in his address stated that Indian Railways is at the crossroads, unable to meet the present demands due to resource crunch. He said that a staggering amount of Rs 1.18 lakh crores are needed for the completion of 359 major sanctioned railway projects. The need of the hour is for a fresh outlook and innovative thinking to generate required resources, he added.
Shri P.K. Srivastava, General Manager, South Central Railway, in his address expressed confidence that the day-long seminar will present a broad framework to aid in policy making on the issue of PPP/FDI in Indian Railways as a large number of eminent personalities representing the Public sector, Private sector and Railways are participating in the deliberations.