Bansal in drivers seat, looks at options to put Rlys back on track

Written by Rajat Arora | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 31 2012, 07:04am hrs
At his first meeting with ministry officials after taking charge, railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Tuesday explored the opton of hiking passenger fares before the Budget.

He also asked officials to expedite the work on the dedicated freight corridor and discussed measures to boost private investments in the sector. Sources said the minister laid emphasis on putting the railway finances on track to bring it out of the financial mess.

In the two-hour-long meeting on Tuesday, Bansal deliberated on the modalities of the proposed railway tariff authority and the railway safety fund. According to sources, some structural changes in the railway board could also be on the cards.

The hike in passenger fare could come before the rail budget, so that the finances improve in the current financial year, said a senior railway officer.

According to the latest CAG report on railways, which came out in May, the railways was facing a severe financial crunch and their accumulated funds had eroded by 93%.

The CAG report observed that railways has not been able to meet its operational cost of passenger and other coaching services. Capital fund and development fund showed negative balances of R885.71 crore and R1,213.34 crore, respectively.

Apart form the financial problems, expediting the work of dedicated freight corridor was also discussed in the meeting, which lasted for more than two hours. Private investment in railways was also on the agenda, the officer added.