Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said railways has to fulfill its social obligations while running it as a commercial organisation.
Addressing the General Managers conference here, Prabhu said constant efforts should be on to find ways to increase passenger and freight traffic and also the share of non-fare revenue as railways is facing challenges.
“If we have to run it as a commercial enterprise, we cannot fulfil social obligations and if we have to fulfil the social obligations, we cannot run it as a commercial enterprise. But we have to fulfil our social obligations while running this as a commercial enterprise,” Prabhu said.
He said railways needs to strike a balance between Japanese and Chinese railway financial models.
Emphasising on station redevelopment through PPP route, he said “It is a priority for us. Joint ventures with states are very much necessary. Railways cannot work only with our own resources. Hence, PPP route should be explored wherever possible.
“To benefit the states, we have already spoken to World Bank, IDFC, ICICI, to fund the joint venture projects. A Holding company will take over many of the railways’ subsidiaries. We are also working on many ideas to improve the functioning of the Railways.”
He said for the first time the freight rates have been reduced by the Railways to attract traffic.
“If we do not think about competition, we cannot improve. At the micro level, we should see how the competition is faring. We therefore, have to properly make our pricing policy for both passenger and freight traffic. And at the same time we have to keep long term interest of the railways in mind,” Prabhu said.
Referring to the need for expansion of the Railway infrastructure, Prabhu said “If you want to grow, you need to invest. If you want to invest, you need to find the way.”
He said this year’s targets not only have to be met but to be exceeded.
Emphasising on investment, he said “China invests heavily for the development of their railways. Extra Budgetary resources are necessary for the development of railways. We must also invest in our Railways. We have already begun investment into railways system. If we do not, we cannot grow.”
He called upon General Managers to be in regular touch with the respective Chief Ministers of the State with a view to facilitate execution of projects in that State.
Referring to the financial burden because of the implementation of 7th Central Pay Commission, Prabhu said, “We have to work on cutting expenditure and analyse operational and development issues and make out a strategy to deal with them.”