The railway minister recently hinted about the possibility of raising train fares in the future. But before that is done, we suggest that the ministry addresses a few important things that ail the sector. Railway remains the most neglected of all public mass transport systems in the country. We have invested little in expanding upon the vast infrastructure that we inherited in 1947. While the country has invested billions of dollars over the last decade in mega infrastructure projects, very little has been allocated to the most effective mode of public transport in the country that is capable of moving thousands of people daily with little hassle.
While roads and road transport have had the benefit of massive investment, rebuilding the railway sector has been sidelined. Its resources have depleted, its land illegally occupied and most of its rolling stock are in a decrepit state. The development projects so far have been in driblets and patchy. Given the tremendous potential of this sector, we feel that return on investment in the sector will far outweigh the return from other sectors.
We would like to know precisely what steps the government is mulling to improve the quality and availability of rail routes over the next few years. What steps are being taken to cut the annual losses in the railway sector? What kind of initiatives of oversight does the ministry intend to undertake to improve the service railway provides to commuters? Is the ministry putting together a strategic plan that will be followed over the next five or more years, outlining investment in both material and personnel to improve connectivity that will facilitate faster movement of people? Or are we simply adding new carriages to replace old ones? Until we address the systemic problems that plague the railway, merely increasing fares will do little to aid this ailing sector.