PM-Narendra-Modi-interacts-with-children-on-board-the-inaugural-train-on-the-Katra-Udhampur-rail-link-PTI-photo
PM-Narendra-Modi-interacts-with-children-on-board-the-inaugural-train-on-the-Katra-Udhampur-rail-link-PTI-photo

Can Prime Minister Narendra Modi put railways back on track?

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Modi's new government will unveil its maiden railways budget, with expectations high that he will offer bold plans to improve the service – a lifeline for 23 million commuters every day.
By HT Correspondent | Reuters, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 08, 2014 02:40 AM IST

Departing platform one at New Delhi station last week was India's fastest train: the test run of the Delhi-Agra express - dubbed "semi-high speed" by local media - topped a record-breaking 160 kilometres per hour on its way to the Taj Mahal.

But the velocity, though triple the 50 kilometres average clocked on trips across the country, is barely one-third of the top-speed of China's fastest train, showing the extent to which the country's expansive but under-funded train network has failed to keep pace.

"The capacity of the track is almost saturated," Anurag Sachan, divisional railway manager for Delhi, said in his office next to New Delhi's giant station. "We could go as high as 200 km but we would need to have a completely new track for higher speeds."

Read: Railways minister to focus on increasing revenue, safety

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who started out selling tea outside a train station, has promised to modernise India's railways and build high-speed engines befitting Asia's third-largest economy.

On Tuesday, his new government will unveil its maiden railways budget, with expectations high that he will offer bold plans to improve the service - a lifeline for 23 million commuters every day.

Read: The spectacular rise of Sadananda Gowda

Among the goals is bringing much more private money into one of the country's largest state-controlled industries. At present, there's small private involvement in suburban services and locomotive manufacturing.

In a speech last week, Modi hinted at how much of a revamp he believed the railways needed, telling an audience in Kashmir that he wanted an upgrade of stations, many of which look much as they did under the British.

"Why do our railway stations need to be so old, why can't they be better than our airports?" he said, after waving a green flag to inaugurate services on a stretch of track in the mountain state.

Read: BJP's high-speed rail plans and fare hike could save railways

Partnerships needed
Modi's government will announce plans for public-private partnerships in railway infrastructure, the leading economic daily reported on Monday, citing government sources, and he is expected to update the country on plans for a high-speed rail between the financial capital Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

"If the railways are to fully benefit the climate, the economy, society, the government needs to bring in more money... including from private and foreign investment" said G. Raghuram, professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and co-author of a report about railway modernisation.

HT Edit: Railway fare hike could be the first of many bitter pills

Raghuram said allowing private money into freight was a simple and relatively easy shift that would boost the economy. Railways' share of freight has fallen from 90% of the country's cargo in 1950 to one-third today, as congested tracks and slow speeds force shipments onto roads - in turn clogging them.

The tougher task for Modi will be finding a sustainable fix to the funding crunch facing the railways, including by allowing foreign direct investment into the network, a move resisted by the railways in the past.

By a conservative estimate, the railways need Rs 20 trillion($334 billion) of investment by 2020, according to economist Tirthankar Patnaik at Religare Capital Markets said. That's far in excess of the Rs 1.4 trillion the sector is estimated to earn this year even after an unpopular fare-hike pushed through last month.

Read: Growth oriented budget for railways expected

"Though there are some areas where the private sector can play a role, the bulk of the investment will have to come from the government," said Shri Prakash, a former member of the Railway Board.

Prakash said Modi needs to strike a balance between appealing to private profit-seeking investors and keeping fares affordable for the millions who depend on the network.

In New Delhi, railway manager Sachan said the job of the railways was to "cater to the masses".

"High speed is definitely important but it is much more important to give transport to our poor people," he said.

Full coverage: Union Budget 2014

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
France’s ecological transition minister Barbara Pompili, whose post is considered number two in the government, will begin her visit to India on Thursday. (TWITTER/@barbarapompili)
France’s ecological transition minister Barbara Pompili, whose post is considered number two in the government, will begin her visit to India on Thursday. (TWITTER/@barbarapompili)

India, France to sign two agreements during French minister's 5-day visit

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Sohini Sarkar
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 01:03 AM IST
  • Singh and Pompili will preside over the signing of a letter of intent between the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and the French Development Agency (AFD) for developing a floating solar plant of up to 150 MW.
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Twitter suspends at least 500 accounts for ‘spam, manipulation’

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 12:14 AM IST
New Delhi: Microblogging website Twitter on Wednesday took down at least 500 accounts for “spam and platform manipulation”, as the fall out of the farmers’ tractor rally that turned violent in Delhi on Tuesday
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Govt indicates offer to farmers still on table, channel for talks kept open

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 12:13 AM IST
NEW DELHI Although the farmers’ protest march on Republic Day took a violent turn, leaving many police personnel injured and leading to the destruction of public property, government managers indicated on Wednesday that the Centre will keep its communication channels with farm unions open and its offer to put the three controversial agricultural laws in abeyance for 18 months will stay
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Punjab villages sombre after clash, still back stir

By Anil Sharma, Navrajdeep Singh, Avtar Singh and Mohit Khanna
UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 12:13 AM IST
Tarn Taran/Patiala/Sangrur/ludhiana Located roughly six kilometers from the holy city of Tarn Taran in northern Punjab, Piddi village has been in the limelight for decades as the home of Satnam Singh Pannu, a 65-year-old farm leader who founded the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC), an organisation of farmers and labourers with sway in the Majha region
Close
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan displays a vial of Bharat Biotech Ltd. Covaxin at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Saturday.(Bloomberg Photo )
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan displays a vial of Bharat Biotech Ltd. Covaxin at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Saturday.(Bloomberg Photo )

Covaxin effective on UK virus strain of Covid-19, says ICMR

ANI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 11:45 PM IST
An Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) study on Covaxin shows a comparable neutralization activity of the vaccinated individuals against UK-variant strain.
Close
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a Duare Sarkar programme at Nabanna, state secretariat, in Kolkata, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (PTI Photo) (PTI01_27_2021_000174B)(PTI)
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a Duare Sarkar programme at Nabanna, state secretariat, in Kolkata, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (PTI Photo) (PTI01_27_2021_000174B)(PTI)

Mamata Banerjee to meet select TMC leaders amid dissent among section of MLAs

UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 11:29 PM IST
  • Mamata Banerjee has recently appointed coordinators for the five assembly constituencies in East Midnapore district, the home turf of former TMC stalwart Suvendu Adhikari who joined the BJP on December 19.
Close
A healthcare worker gets a Covid-19 vaccine at Sion Hospital, in Mumbai on Saturday. (ANI Photo)
A healthcare worker gets a Covid-19 vaccine at Sion Hospital, in Mumbai on Saturday. (ANI Photo)

MHA issues Covid-19 rules, to be followed from Feb 1: All you need to know

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Arpan Rai, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 11:21 PM IST
In the fresh set of guidelines, which will remain in force till February 28, the MHA has allowed entry of all in swimming pools, which were previously opened for sportsperson only, and allowed cinema halls to increase the ceiling on people indoors.
Close
Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has announced hefty cash incentives to gram panchayats who elect their leaders without any contest. (PTI PHOTO).
Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has announced hefty cash incentives to gram panchayats who elect their leaders without any contest. (PTI PHOTO).

Jagan Reddy announces cash incentives for unanimous polls to gram panchayats

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 11:11 PM IST
  • As part of the strategy, the Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday issued an order announcing hefty cash incentives to be given to gram panchayats where sarpanches and ward members are elected unanimously without any contest.
Close
Prime Minister Modi will address the Forum's Davos Dialogue on January 28 via video conferencing, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.(Photo: BJP4India/ Twitter)
Prime Minister Modi will address the Forum's Davos Dialogue on January 28 via video conferencing, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.(Photo: BJP4India/ Twitter)

PM Modi to address World Economic Forum's Davos Agenda Summit tomorrow

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Arpan Rai, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 11:11 PM IST
The PM will be speaking on a range of subjects, including India's reform trajectory and increased usage of technology.
Close
In a tweet, Rajnath Singh said the firm commitment to deepen India-US defence cooperation was reiterated during the talks. (ANI File Photo)
In a tweet, Rajnath Singh said the firm commitment to deepen India-US defence cooperation was reiterated during the talks. (ANI File Photo)

Rajnath Singh speaks to US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 11:10 PM IST
  • The defence ministry said Rajnath Singh received an "introductory telephone call" from the newly-appointed US Secretary of Defence Austin and that the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to work together to strengthen defence cooperation and the strategic partnership between the two countries.
Close
An illuminated view of Victoria Memorial on the occasion of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's 125th birth anniversary in Kolkata.(ANI)
An illuminated view of Victoria Memorial on the occasion of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's 125th birth anniversary in Kolkata.(ANI)

Multimedia exhibition on Netaji at Victoria Memorial

PTI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 10:59 PM IST
The exhibition contains 125 stories on Netaji to commemorate his 125th birth anniversary.
Close
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, cabinet minister Balasaheb Thorat, and Jayant Patil during a gathering in Mumbai.(ANI)
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, cabinet minister Balasaheb Thorat, and Jayant Patil during a gathering in Mumbai.(ANI)

NCP to launch Rashtravadi Parivar Samwad Yatra on Thursday

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Mallika Soni
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 10:55 PM IST
State NCP president and Maharashtra water resources minister Jayant Patil said that the yatra will involve discussions and meetings with party workers.
Close
Last year too, the state election commissioner had been involved in a controversy in the run-up to the Panchayat polls. In the polls, more than one third of the seats were won by the TMC without any contest..(HT)
Last year too, the state election commissioner had been involved in a controversy in the run-up to the Panchayat polls. In the polls, more than one third of the seats were won by the TMC without any contest..(HT)

Rajasthan: 90 urban local bodies to go to polls on Jan 28

ANI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 10:46 PM IST
SEC Commissioner, Mehra said, "All voters should step out to vote to wear a mask. Sanitize your hands before going to the polling booth and wait for your turn while standing on the marked ballots. During the voting, priority should be given to senior citizens and physically disabled people."
Close
Before the restrictions were imposed, nearly 70 flights per week were operating between the two countries, according to DGCA with 10 flights operating per day. (FILE PHOTO).
Before the restrictions were imposed, nearly 70 flights per week were operating between the two countries, according to DGCA with 10 flights operating per day. (FILE PHOTO).

India extends restrictions on flights from UK till February 14

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 10:34 PM IST
  • On December 21, India joined a growing list of countries to seal off access to people who have been to the UK, suspending all flights to and from the country between December 23 and December 31 in order to stop the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus.
Close
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav met father Lalu Prasad at Ranchi hospital with brother Tej Pratap and mother Rabri Devi.(PTI Photo/Representative)
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav met father Lalu Prasad at Ranchi hospital with brother Tej Pratap and mother Rabri Devi.(PTI Photo/Representative)

RJD eyes Bengal, Assam assembly polls, considers pacts with TMC, Congress-AIUDF

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 10:32 PM IST
  • The RJD is looking to contest seven to eight seats in West Bengal and 12 seats in Assam.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP