Rail Budget 2016: Railway board to get a corporate makeover

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Updated: February 26, 2016 12:20:05 AM

Rail Budget 2016: Cross-functional directorates to focus on non-fare revenues, speed enhancement, motive power and IT.

Rail Budget 2016: (PTI)Rail Budget 2016: Indian Railways plans to usher into a new era by switching over to paperless contract management system from next year (PTI)

Rail Budget 2016: Admitting that lack of cross-functional collaboration has hit revenues, railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday announced a plan to reorganise the powerful Railway Board like a corporate entity and set up a regulatory body for the railway sector.

“I propose to reorganise the board along business lines and suitably empower the Railway Board chairman to lead the organisation effectively,” Prabhu said presenting the railway budget. As a first step, cross-functional directorates will be set up within the board to focus on areas like non-fare revenues, speed enhancement, motive power and information technology, he said.

A departmental orientation, absence of cross-functional collaboration and lack of business focus have held back the carrier as any theme which required collaboration languished, like increase in average speeds, integrated use of information technology, integrated planning and motive power strategy. Prabhu said the railways would explore the possibility of unifying cadres for fresh recruitment of officers and also strengthen the public-private partnership (PPP) cell to improve ease of doing business.

To give confidence to stakeholders, a Bill will be introduced in the Parliament to set up Rail Development Authority to enable fair pricing of services, promote competition, protect customer interests and determine efficiency standards. Among other measures to improve governance, railways has initiated the process of conducting recruitments online for all positions to ensure 100% transparency in all its operations. All procurement including procurement of works has also moved to the e-platform.

Railways also plans to usher into a new era by switching over to paperless contract management system from next year where not only the bids are invited online, but the entire process leading to award of a tender is also done electronically, Prabhu said.

With a view to ensuring empowerment at functional level, Prabhu had delegated to the Zonal Railways all tender and estimate related powers, resulting in sharp reduction in time taken for sanctioning of projects. Prabhu said MoUs have been signed with some Zonal Railways, where quantifiable targets on performance parameters were clearly laid out. It will be done for all zones next year.

To ensure participation of large professional players and minimising cost and time overruns, he said that Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) mode will be implemented for allotting works. At least 20 projects in the next financial year would be taken up on this mode of contracting and all works above `300 crore will be awarded on this mode.

The IR would also set up a R&D organisation, a Special Railway Establishment for Strategic Technology & Holistic Advancement, ‘SRESTHA.’ Prabhu has also proposed a holding company structure for all companies owned by railways to leverage the combined resources.

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