New railway minister Mukul Roy, while parrying queries on whether the railways will roll back the freight fare hike, said on Monday he hoped to improve the operating ratio (how much is spent in order to earn 100 rupees) while giving priority to safety, security and punctuality.
While addressing his first media conference in Kolkata after taking over as the railway minister, Roy said: "The operating ratio was never below since 90% since 1973-74. We have taken several steps. We are hopeful of improving the operating ratio."
When asked if his ministry would consider full or partial roll back of the freight increase that was announced just before the railway budget, Roy said: "Freight fare hike was not in the budget provision. Budget reply is based on the budget provisions."
Roy said the railways will stress on punctuality, safety and security and try to improve overall services.
"Railways is the lifeline of the nation. Nearly 2.2 million passengers travel daily. The safety, security and punctuality are our top priorities," he said.
Roy, the most trusted lieutenant of Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee, sidestepped a question on the "non-conventional" ways of increasing the revenue that he has talked about during his budget speech.
"Right now parliament is in session. I will speak after it is over. I will speak on the issue at Rail Bhavan in Delhi," he said.
He also evaded a poser on whether he would operate from Kolkata. "Sitting in Kolkata or Delhi is not the question. I know my duties and responsibilities. I know my job and how to tackle it. Doesn't matter if I'm sitting in Kolkata or Delhi," Roy said, adding that his main priority will be to bring back the "glorious days of Railways" under Banerjee and carry forward her vision for Railways.