Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda on Thursday asked senior officials to pull up their socks to ensure better services, and said a decision on hiking passenger fares and on allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in railways is likely to be taken before the Rail Budget.
Gowda, who addressed railway general managers and divisional railway managers (DRMs) conference here, said that he held a discussion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on these issues and a decision will be taken soon.
Faced with an acute cash crunch, the Railway Board has proposed a 14.2 per cent hike in passenger fares along with a 6.5 per cent increase in freight rates. The Railway Budget is likely to be presented in the second week of July.
Meanwhile, when reporters asked the minister on the extent of FDI in railways, Gowda said since the railways is short of resources, some resource mobilisation should be done. The proportion of FDI will be decided after discussion with the commerce ministry, he added.
Addressing the officers, Gowda said despite the railways being the largest passenger and freight carrier, it stands much behind in efficiency, punctuality, cleanliness and services. Emphasising on safety and cleanliness, he said officials should think outside the box and try to find solutions.
“As senior officers at cutting edge level, you are leaders and a leader always finds ways to go forward, otherwise a leader cannot be called a leader. People want immediate and visible changes in the performance of the railways.”
Asking DRMs to be more assertive, the minister told them to take complete responsibility of “all the good and bad” in their division or zone.
Seeking a complete change in the working culture of the railways, he said the government wants a comprehensive change which will make the railways and the country match the best in the world.
Referring to high-speed trains as one of his priorities, Gowda said steps should be taken to introduce bullet trains in the country and average train speed should increase to 150-200 kmph.
He also asked officials to meet him personally or write to him if they wanted to share certain issues which will help railways provide better services and bring a good name to the institution. He also promised officials confidentiality in these matters.