Goyal rules out privatisation of Railways

He also said railway budgets which were earlier presented in Parliament were designed to mislead the public and show them dreams about new trains for political gains. PTI

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday ruled out privatisation of railways, but made a strong pitch for corporatisation of certain units to increase efficiency to introduce new technology to provide amenities to passengers.

Goyal, responding to a discussion on 'Demand for Grants for Railways' in the Lok Sabha, also hit out at the Opposition for shedding “crocodile tears” over corporatisation of certain production units under Railways contending that he was only taking forward the process set in motion by the UPA government.

The minister also claimed to have kept railways in profit despite the high expenditure for the seventh pay commission payouts to the employees.

“There is no question of privatising railways. But, if somebody wants to bring new technology, build good stations, offer high-speed, semi-high speed trains, we should welcome such investments,” Goyal said adding that the government has decided to go for public-private partnership and corporatisation of certain units.

The minister also claimed that Railways had improved its safety record in the past five years with the number of accidents witnessing a decline. “Between 2004-09, there were on an average 206 accidents every year, in 2009-11, it had reduced to 153. During our time – 2014-19 – the average accidents per year have come down to 95.6,” Goyal said.

Goyal's hour-long response was frequently disrupted by Congress members led by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who accused him of misleading the House, particularly on how the UPA government had dealt with the serial bomb blasts on Mumbai suburban railway in July 11, 2006.

Goyal also defended the decision to discontinue tabling of a separate railway budget in Parliament. He dubbed the previous Railway Budgets as “political budgets” which were used to make grandiose announcements of new trains and railway lines with an aye on elections.

Goyal said that the Modi government had inherited a dilapidated railways, but had managed to turn it around in the past five years by laying new tracks, improving security and facilities for passengers.

The government had plans to spend Rs six lakh crore each on dedicated freight corridors and improving connectivity on high density routes, the minister said and announced plan to achieve 100% electrification of all broadgauge routes across the country.

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