Inviting the industry and state governments to come forward to set up coach factories, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday suggested using the public-private partnership (PPP) model to meet the demand for coaches in the country.
Replying to the debate on the Appropriation (Railways) Bill in the Rajya Sabha, Banerjee said the railways was incurring huge expenditure in meeting the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.
The Appropriation Bill, which was passed by the house by a voice vote, authorises payment of certain expenses out of the Consolidated Fund of India for 2010-11 for the railways. The Lok Sabha earlier passed the bill.
Banerjee said the railway has prepared a long-term plan to meet the demand of rakes and wagons.
But even as she invited the private sector to set up coach factories in the PPP model, Banerjee ruled out any privatisation of the railways. "I am the last person to privatise (railways)," she said.
She said the railways could also involve the private sector in beautification of railway stations. "Somebody will sponsor and beautify the station," she said.
The minister said the railways had not increased passenger fares or freight rates but was shouldering post-budgetary burden of Rs.885 crore.
Banerjee said over 1.8 million passengers travel daily by 17,000 trains in the country.
Earlier during the debate, Banerjee had a run-in with Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat. The CPI-M member alleged that railways had not provided a drop of drinking water on a train hired to take disabled children for a demonstration.
Banerjee said Karat was trying to politicise the issue.