Saturday, December 9, 2023

The Railway University Boondoggle

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It is not known what bright minds are advising NaMo government on Railways.


Railway has one simple function- to carry passengers and goods from point A to point B and charge for doing so. It has highly skilled professionals for doing so, and not only there is no shortage of personnel in any category, there is cut throat competition to get in, in all categories and at all levels.

Railway is the only department in India, next to military, that actually functions, by and large. If you go to New Delhi Railway station at 4.30 pm, on 99% of the days you would find Mumbai Rajdhani leaving the platform for Mumbai. And on 99% of the days it reaches Mumbai dot at 8.35am. The feeling is exhilarating as the platform appears at around 8.25 am.


Of course Railway is in trouble. But it is not in trouble because Indian universities are not producing graduates to man it, but because for last ten years, successive governments have not raised fares in passenger categories. Leaving Railway gasping for funds, even for operations, what to say of capacity additions.


Public is more than ready to pay. Even now passengers, as they encounter waiting list at 8.05 am 60 days in advance, first try for a cheap air ticket. paying thrice the amount. If they found that beyond reach, and persons travelling in non-AC classes, after leaving no stone unturned and no door not knocked to get that berth, finally travel by bus, paying two to three times the rail fare, and travelling in discomfort and less safely.


Passengers are more than ready to pay.


If government doesn’t have the stomach for hysterical TV anchors and disrupters in Parliament over fare hikes, it should pack bags and go home.


Trying ridiculous diversions like Railway university, wi-fi, High Speed corridor (more on that later), FDI, etc., is unbecoming of a government that won an election with full majority.


For God’s sake, know where the problem lies, raise fares every two month, bring them at par with buses, and with revenues so generated, create real carrying capacity by successively using -1. High speed turnouts and longer loops, 2. Doubling, 3. Automatic block signalling, 4. EMU long distance trains ( present long distance trains with distributed power).


And quickly complete the dedicated freight corridor. That will free  huge passenger carrying capacity on GQ.


Running universities is not Railway’s function. It will do it inefficiently, would waste huge money on it, these are not required. And in the end, they will become happy dumping grounds of the inconvenient officers.  We will soon have their VCs’ posts upgraded to Principal Secretary grade

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