Lok Sabha on the second day after its reconvening began
discussion on the Demands for Grants Railways for the year 2015-2016.  Members from both the opposition and treasury
benches raised concerns about railway infrastructure in their constituencies and
states during their speeches.

Mr. Suresh Prabhu, the Minister of Railways replied to the
debate before the house passed the demands for grants.  The Minister in his reply pointed out among
other things, that the Railway is currently not being able to meet states’
aspirations due to low internal generation and low allocation from the Union Budget.
One way of generating revenues could be through market borrowing and reducing
expenditure.  He stated in his speech
that Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) would be established with the states as
companies and the revenue generated in these companies will be used to build
railways infrastructure in those states.

The Standing Committee’s Report on Railways Demand for
Grants was submitted yesterday.  In the
report the committee raised questions on rail access for remote areas in the
country as no new trains were announced during the Railways Budget speech.

The Committee observed that the projections in different
segments of the Railways are unrealistic and the actuals are mostly below the
targets set. It also observed that the revenue from premium trains is not often
proportionate to the investment in them.

The Committee recommended the creation of a National Policy
of the Indian Railways on an urgent basis, which should be the guiding force
for the Railways network, irrespective of the Government in power

Learn more about the overall functioning of Railways sector here and read a detailed analysis of the Railways Budget 2015-16 here.

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