New Delhi: Newly appointed Railway Minister
Dinesh Trivedi on Thursday hinted at following in the footsteps of
his predecessors as he said there could be other sources of
revenue generation than hiking passenger fares.
Interacting with media on his first day at Rail Bhawan
in the backdrop of the Kalka Mail accident, Trivedi also said
railways is in the process of filling the vital safety related
posts as well as appointment of board members.
"The easiest thing to do is raise passenger fare. It is
an easy option. But we should appreciate the fact that the
poor people cannot even afford a hike of Rs 2. Therfore, we
should explore other avenues also to generate revenue," he
Referring to former Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee`s
efforts to establish railway`s own captive power plant to
reduce the power bill, he said similar "out of box" solutions
have to be found out for revenue generation before anyone can
think of raising the fares.
Trivedi`s reaction comes amid persistent demand from
the Planning Commission and from its railway unions for
raising passenger fares which has not been raised for over
eight years now.
Trivedi laid emphasis on proper exploitation of its vast
land bank and other existing rail infrastructure to raise
funds while acknowledging the current financial position that
railway is in today.
The new Railway Minister announced the launch of railway
debit cards which should be available at stations for
purchasing tickets and items from vendors.
Trivedi reiterated his resolve to implement Vision 2020
prepared by his leader Mamata Banerjee for addressing issues
plaguing the Railways and envisioned a future where "stations
look like airports and locomotive cabins resemble a plane`s
Spelling out his 11-point agenda as the new Railway
Minister, he laid emphasis on improving productivity
efficiency, expansion of rail network, creation of new
community assets and modernisation of rail stations through
PPP mode and revival of Rail-Tel.
He also underlined implementation of modern
e-signalling system and advanced Anti-Collission Device to
avert train accidents and implementation of GPS system for
real time tracking of trains.
Besides, he resolved moves for timely completion of
East West Dedicated Freight Corridor project which has seen
exponential cost escalation and delays.
He said improving rail safety is an ongoing process and
they have to generate safety related funds.
"Money has to come whether it is from the system or in
a way of subsidy from the government because safety never
sleeps," he asserted.
The pilot-turned-politician who is the main face of his
party here, said he aspires to make "train journey a pleasant
experience" and emphsaised on reducing train accidents
considerably in the coming years.
Asked about the cause behind Kalka Mail mishap which
has claimed 70 lives so far, he said "the investigations is
on...all these (investigation) take time."
He also promised to ensure jobs to the next of kin of
those killed in rail accidents. "I will ensure that the
promise to provide jobs to the kin of victims of accidents
will be fulfilled in time."
Trivedi felt the primary job of a Railway Minister is
to "execute the dreams of the Prime Minister for the country
and ensure policy implementation. As a Minister one can give
guidelines as our officials and workforce is quite capable of
running the show."
About the need of executing many unviable rail
projects, he said there are certain projects not economically
viable but socially required. Our system is not fully
commercial because it links the country."