After TMC pullout, Rlys braces for reforms

Privatisation of services and passenger fare hike likely

The Railways is set for big reforms on the lines prescribed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, with the Congress almost certain to keep the ministry.

Mamata Banerjee, however, will lose an instrument for her development agenda.  
The Railways will now witness huge flow of foreign capital, privatisation and passenger fare hike. Banerjee had resisted privatisation of services and hike in passenger fares. She even torpedoed efforts by Dinesh Trivedi in this regard by removing him from the ministry.  
Trivedi tried to implement  reforms envisaged by Singh and Ahluwalia. His railway budget proposed privatisation of catering and house keeping services and tried to open up these services to foreign capital. Trivedi also wanted to open up the core sector of safety to  foreign technology.

After the exit of Mukul Roy from the ministry, Railways may implement recommendations of the Anil Kakodakr and Sam Pitroda committees, which prescribed high capital investment, huge participation of private capital, even from multi-national companies and increase in passenger fare.

The exit of Trinamool Congress will also change the way Railways was governed.  

The TMC ministers also made changes in governance to suit the needs of West Bengal. Dinesh Trivedi, during his tenure, constituted a high powered committee with a state
government official as its head, to monitor Railways projects in the state.

From now on, Banerjee will lose a ready tool in Railways, which she exploited to enhance her political appeal in West Bengal. She used Railways to remove regional disparity in economic development and initiated projects in backward areas.

Railways have given 16 production units to West Bengal, including a coach manufacturing factory at Kanchrapara, a wagon manufacturing unit at Burdwan and a captive power plant in Adra (Purulia).

Banerjee also made the Steel Authority of India invest over Rs 34, 000 crore through railway projects. Railways bought 74 per cent stakes in the East-West Metro project in Kolkata, one of the prestigious projects of Trinamool Congress.

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