Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi on Friday hinted at a possible revision of passenger fares that have not not been touched for eight years despite increasing input costs.
"There is a definite case to have a relook at the fares which have not been touched since last eight years despite increase in input costs," Trivedi told PTI.
"Raising fares is not the solution (to raise funds). We have to think of the poor," he had told reporters earlier in the day when asked if a hike in rail fares was on the cards.
At the same time, he said the railways were also considering a suitable model as raising funds alone was not a solution as the interest of the poor has to be kept in mind.
Earlier in the day, speaking on the sidelines of a function Trivedi observed that the existing network has "outlived its utility".
He stressed the need for a complete overhaul of the railway infrastructure and harped on a national railway policy for rebuilding the system with modern technology to ensure high level of safety.
His comments come against the backdrop of the public transporter being affected by recurring accidents and acute financial crisis, forcing it to put several projects on hold.
The minister felt a good business model is a prime requirement for the Railways at present to attract funds. A sound political will was also required to rebuild the entire network that is saddled with obsolete technology and is dependent too much on human intervention, he said.
"Unless we rebuild the entire railway system like we have rebuild the aviation...we need technological intervention which is absolutely urgent," he said.
He said Indian Railways should be delinked from political interventions so as to give them a professional outlook and allow the public transporter to move to the next generation.
Noting that the Railways should be delinked from politics, he said, "It is important...whether in matters of transfer, providing stoppages at stations, for new lines. All MPs...(have their wish list). I don't criticise that because they have to think about the people, but we should understand we have to give Railways a professional model."
Trivedi also felt that there has to be a continuity in railway policies and programmes irrespective of who is the minister.
"Problem is when the railway minister changes, system changes. We have to maintain the continuity and ensure consistency for the overall interest of the Railways," he added.