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Railway travelers should pay for services

The Indian Railways got caught in the conflict wherever populism prevailed over performance.

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley spelt out the roadmap for the Indian Railways — two months before he is set to present the Union Budget that will comprise the rail budget for the first time in Indian history.

Finance Minister signalled that the Union government will resist populist measures, focus on improving the railway station infrastructure, monetize railway assets for commercial activities, outsource train hospitality and most importantly, make consumers pay for the services they receive.

FM said the Indian Railways got caught in the battle where populism prevailed over performance.

The power sector companies ran into debt as consumers were not paying for services in 1990s until sector reforms came in 2003. The highways sector was booming because consumers paid through toll taxes or cess on fuel, he noted.

At present, the Indian Railways recovered 57 per cent of the travel cost on passenger tickets. This meant if it spent Rs. 100 on a train journey, it recovered Rs. 57 from passengers and the rest went as subsidy.



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