The statement by the Minister comes when various MPs in the parliament accused the Government of pursuing privatisation of Railways.
Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw cleared the air about the railway’s privatisation and stated that national transport will always remain under the ownership of the government.
“The track, stations, overhead cables, train engines, coaches, signalling system all belong to the railways. There is no talk of privatisation anywhere. My predecessor Piyush Goyal had already specified in the House that an organisation as complex as the Indian Railways cannot be privatised,” said Ashwini Vaishnaw.
Privatisation has been an active discussion and has been in the news, especially after the Bibek Debroy Committee recommended concessioning of commercial operation of train services like Rajdhani/Shatabdi to private parties.
“It is only a hypothetical point…The track belongs to railways, stations belong to railways, engines belong to railways, trains belong to railways, signalling systems belong to railways…(there is) no talk of privatisation…no plans to privatise railways,” the minister asserted.
His statement comes as many MPs in the parliament accused the Government of pursuing privatisation of railways.
Highlighting the pace of development during their government, the minister said, “During 2009-2014, only 1,520 km of new tracks, doubling, tripling, multi-tracking was done annually. This pace was doubled to 2,531 km per year during 2014-2019. This year we have taken a target of 3000 km and are changing the system for that”.
The central advantage of the railways under the government is expanding connectivity and low-priced fares. On the other hand, Privatisation may bring better infrastructure and improved quality of service.
However, the minister clarified that the Indian Railways is a strategic sector with social obligations, and therefore, there is no scope or discussion of privatization.
Vaishnaw further added talking about the budget, “Today the railways ferries about 800 crore passengers in a year and 1,400 million tonnes of cargo on it. The Budget this year has estimated revenue of about Rs 2 lakh crore and a capital investment of about Rs 2.5 lakh crore”.
Regarding the questions on recruitment, Vaishnaw said only 242,709 appointments were made from 2009-2014. Since 2014, there have already been 344,646 appointments, he said, and that the recruitment process is ongoing for 144,713 vacancies.
Railways were introduced in India by the Colonial government in 1832 initially in Madras, especially for export-import business handled by the East India company. After independence, the ownership of the railways came under the Government of India.