Indian Railway
Travel by Indian Railways set to get more expensiveReuters

While Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda announced the government's plans to bring about modernization in the Indian Railways, he also threw light on the current state of affairs of one of the world's largest rail networks. From hundreds of pending projects to meagre surplus over expenditure, the Railways has been riddled with problems. 

  • In the last 30 years, 676 rail projects have been sanctioned, but 359 projects still remain to be implemented. Four projects are still pending for the last 30 years, Gowda highlighted, revealing the red-tapism that has slowed down the Indian Railways. He said that funds of up to ₹5 lakh crore i.e. around ₹50,000 crore per year for the next 10 years, are required for the ongoing projects alone.
  • Of the 99 projects taken up in 10 years that cost ₹60,000 crore, only one has been completed so far.
  • Of every rupee that the Indian railways earns, it spends 94 paise, which means it spends 94 percent of its earnings, leaving the Railway with a negligible surplus. 
  • Indian railways carries only 31 percent of the total freight transported in the country, Gowda said, identifying it as a challenge. He said it is the aim of his government to make the Indian railways the largest freight carrier in the world.
  • While the Indian Railways has 12,500 trains that carry 23 million passengers every day, vast parts of the hinterland is still waiting to be connected to the rail network, Gowda said.
  • Gowda criticized the earlier government's policy, stating that passenger fares were kept lower than costs, thus causing loss in the passenger train operations. This loss kept on increasing from 10 paise per passenger kilometer in 2000-01 to 23 paise in 2012-13.
  • Social service obligation rose from 9.4 percent of Gross Traffic Receipts in 2000-01 to 16.6 percent in 2010-11. In 2012-13, such obligations stood over ₹20,000 crore, and was more than half the size of the plan outlay. "An organization spending an amount equivalent to more than half of its Plan Outlay under budgetary sources on social obligations, can hardly have adequate resources for its development works," Gowda said in the Parliament.