RAILWAY Minister Piyush Goyal strongly defends PPP mode for the development of the Indian Railways

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal  has said the government has no plans to privatise the Indian Railways, but is open to allowing private investment in setting up high-speed, semi-high speed lines. Speaking to media persons in Mumbai, his home town on Sunday, January 12, the CA turned politician stressed the need for involving the private sector to accelerate the development of the Indian Railways. Dismissing speculation on the privatisation of the railway network, he pleaded for   PPP mode – public-private partnership -for the sector. There must be reforms in the railways also. Some trains are still moving slowly like actor Ashok Kumar’s famed ‘railgaadi’ song sung years 42 ago for lack of updated infrastructure,” Goyal said. Recalling the song sung from iconic director Hirishikesh Mukherjee’s 1968 film “Aashirwad”, he said “We want to end the era of slow moving trains by making way for the fast speed-driven MEMU and electric trains like the trains being run in suburban Mumbai in cooperation with the private sector.”Asked about the opposition to private investments, Goyal said, “The common public is not opposing it. You might be noticing the noise elsewhere. In fact, people are welcoming that the railway is entering a new era,’ “he said . Defending    PPP Goyal said the railways need INR 50 lakh crore in next 12 years to expand the facilities for passenger and goods trains through modernisation.”This big investment is impossible through the railway and government budgets. So, the way out is to work on a public-private partnership (PPP) model,” he said. Due to inadequate investments in railways in the past, the government machinery faced the burden, he said, adding that the demand of ticket-seekers in some trains was more than 150 per cent. At Indore, he said that it has been planned to seek cooperation from the private sector for the beautification and expansion of railways across the country.Goyal said that for improvement of railway facilities, we are planning to achieve the target of investment of 50 lakh crore for the next 12 years. Public private partnership is also being worked out for this. He described that the investment of private sector in the Railways is in the interest of the country as well as passengers. Mr. Goyal was on a day long visit to Ujjain and Indore. The Minister said that in order to improve the operation of trains in the country, the halt of trains will be stopped at all those stations from where there is less passenger traffic. He   announced introduction of a special train between Ujjain to Banaras.

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