The Indian Railways are the lifeline of the country. It is like the veins in a body criss-crossing each and every part of India serving its citizens and powering its economy, thereby improving lives and ensuring the future is easier and better in all respects. With economic growth to a large extent being dependent on what passes on those broad-gauge rail tracks, it would be pertinent to ask if the government is serious about the state of Indian Railways and by corollary, the welfare of the Indian population. The Railways is one of the most important forms of travel for the Indian population. While all trains are guaranteed to start, are they mostly on time, are they clean (fear of catching a disease is always on the mind), are they comfortable enough and most importantly, as far as the common man is concerned, are they cheap?
While, on a daily basis, we get to see and hear about Indian Railways having done this, achieved that, perhaps broke some old record, or otherwise brought some relief to passengers. The travelling public has seen it all and borne even more. They now want comfort, cleanliness and on-time performance, each and every time they step into an Indian Railways station, right from the time they look to book a ticket to the very ride itself.
Is the government serious about fulfilling these needs and requirements of the people or is it just taking a gullible public for a ride? The only way to find this out is whether the government is putting its money where its mouth is – on the line. In short, are investments happening at all, are they dropping or are they rising. And if rising, is the amount adequate enough? The government earns good money from passengers and even more from freight. How much of the Indian Railways earnings is the government ploughing back into this behemoth organisation?
The figures available in the public sphere say it all! From an average of just Rs 24,307 cr in the 2004 to 2009 period, the capital investments in Indian Railways increased to an average of Rs 45,979 crore in the period between 2009 and 2014. And then it shot up magically to Rs 93,795 cr in 2015-16 and even better at Rs 1,21,000 cr in 2016-17. So, is the government serious? Quite so, indeed!