Stepping up efforts to have a regulatory mechanism to determine tariff, the railways is in the process of finalising a Cabinet note to be taken up soon for setting up the Rail Development Authority (RDA).
The Authority will initially be set up through an executive order after the Cabinet’s approval and will subsequently be strengthened through a legislation, said a senior Railway Ministry official.
At present, the RDA proposal is being sent to different ministries, including Finance and Law, for inter-ministerial consultation.
The proposed Authority, a first-of-its-kind in the railways, will have four key functions, including fixing the fare structure.
However, RDA set up through an executive order will have recommending power and only after legislative approval, its decision will be mandatory in nature.
Besides tariff determination functions, RDA will have to ensure fair play and level playing field for private investments in railways.
Railways is wooing private players for development of its infrastructure, including laying new lines and station redevelopment, across the country.
RDA will also be responsible for setting efficiency and performance standards and dissemination of information.
Policy-making and operations and maintenance will not be under the purview of RDA.
As per the proposal, the Authority will discharge functions in a manner to protect the interest of consumers, ensuring quality of service, promoting competition, encouraging market development, efficient allocation of resources, provide non-discriminatory open access specially on Dedicated freight corridor and to benchmark service levels for ensuring quality, continuity and reliability of service.
Compliance with safety standards and practices, financial management and setting up technical standards will be out of the Authority’s purview.
The proposed RDA will consist of Chairman and four members who have experience and knowledge in the railways, infrastructure, finance, law, management and consumer affairs.