Accommodation Times News Services
By Murari Chaturvedi, Editor-in-Chief,
In the entire world, Indian railways has gained the position of being the largest public system of passengers transport. About 7500 trains for passengers are run by Indian railways carrying 12 million people on an average every day. The first train was run in 1853 from Mumbai’s Victoria Terminals to Thane. A British engineer Robert Maitland Brereton was responsible for the expansion of railways from the year 1857 onwards. Indian Railways is world’s seventh largest utility employer with over 1,376 million employees. As for rolling stock Indian Railways holds over 2,45,267 freights wagons, 66,392 passenger coaches and 10,499 locomotives and runs 12,617 passenger trains and 7421 freight trains daily. Indian Railways earn about 70 per cent of its revenues from freight traffic so majority of its profits come from freight and this makes up for losses on passengers fares low it cross-subsidises the loss making passenger traffic with the profit making freight traffic. However its share in freight traffic is much lower than road traffic. This should be looked into and rational approach for fixing fares for goods trains and passenger trains. Railways has two UNESCO world heritage sites namely the Chatrapari Shivaji Terminus and the mountain railways of India. But, this huge organisation is running in losses of Rs. 30, 000 crores in the passenger segment for the year ending March 2014. As in the practise of railway ministry, new railway line projects are announced during the railway budget each year, without securing additional funding for them. In the last 12 years 99 new line projects worth Rs. 60,000 crores were announced out of which only one project is complete till date while four projects that are as old as 30 years, but are still not complete. This practise of announcing new railway line projects needs a serious approach and should not be announced without proper sanction of budget is there. The passenger facilities like waiting rooms and retiring rooms, needs a serious and practical approach. The passenger associations and railway employees must be consulted on regular basis. Often there are no proper electricity connections for charging mobile phones and they are over crowded. Most of the major railway stations have these waiting rooms, but one cannot be sure of their presence in all stations across India. Retiring rooms are there in larger and important railway stations. Retiring rooms can be basic rooms or dormitory or suits. But these retiring or waiting rooms lack recommended amenities. The railway ministry must pay attention to them rather than to announce new railway line, which may not come without provision of funding.