FE Editorial: Slow train or fast train?

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SummaryRailway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal surprised when, out of the blue, he announced a 10-12% hike in passenger fares, a few months after taking over when the Trinamool Congress vacated the ministry along with the government.

is. According to the Kakodkar panel on Railway safety, around a fifth of safety-related posts in the Railways are vacant; the 52 kg/m rail tracks used, the panel says, are “not prudent to use” and around 43,000 ICF coaches used “are no more safe at the present operational speeds”. In a situation like this, the only feasible solution lies in dramatically hiking the involvement of the private sector—R2.3 lakh crore is to be mobilised through PPP in the current Plan period—but there has been no progress on this so far. While nothing has been heard of the grand plan to make the New Delhi Railway Station into a three-level modern airport-like facility and, as the column on the Reflect page points out, four years after the Cabinet approved a programme for an electric loco to be made on a PPP basis, the Railways have modified the proposal in a way that makes PPP more difficult—even irrelevant. Mr Bansal’s performance today will be the first peek into the UPA’s new reformist credentials.

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