Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, these days, is fully occupied in preparing his people-friendly budget on Feb 26. Like last year, this year too there are not going to be any major hikes in the railway fares or in freight rates.

After his party, the RJD, fared badly in the Bihar assembly elections, he is in no mood to invite the wrath of the electorate by raising train fares. Thus it is clear that under `Lalunomics’ the Railways would continue to bear further losses. Call it the charisma of Lalu, that from the time, he took over as the Railway minister, nobody has dared to look into the losses being faced by the Railways. Even the media, by informing only the profits being earned by the Railways, have sung peons in Lalu’s name. However, the truth speaks otherwise as the ministry has not been able to bring down the passenger trains losses being faced every year. According to an estimate, the Railways are facing an annual loss of Rs 6300 crores from passenger trains and parcel business. Last year it was proposed to bring down this loss by 50pc but it has not happened. The railway minister had proposed about three dozen plans to take the organisation out from the red, but it seems all related plans have met their end under the weight of the files. Some schemes did start but did not make much progress. The ministry had decided to overcome the losses being suffered by passenger trains, numbering 900, by introducing pantry car services. By this the railways had estimated to earm Rs 130 crores but this service could be started only in 16 trains. Besides, the railways had aimed to earn Rs 900 cr by setting up food stalls of branded cos on platforms. But this plan also did not succeed. The announcement of `Garib Rath’ for making the ordinary passenger sit in cool environs of AC coaches too has failed to materialise. Even the officials admit of its impracticality. Moreso Lalu’s ambitious train is even unable to earn the transport expenses for these `raths’.They are on the top of loss.

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