Published On: Wed, Apr 1st, 2015

Debroy panel suggests private players should run trains

New Delhi: Recommending drastic reforms, a high-level railway restructuring committee has suggested allowing private players to run passenger as well as freight trains, producing coaches, wagons and locomotives and switching over to commercial accounting of railway functions.

Bibek Debroy restructuring committee has suggested allowing private players to run passenger as well as freight trains.

Bibek Debroy restructuring committee has suggested allowing private players to run passenger as well as freight trains.

The Bibek Debroy Committee in its interim report submitted yesterday, has also asked the national transporter to withdraw from welfare services such as running schools and hospitals and managing Railway Protection Force (RPF).

The committee has suggested setting up of a government SPV (with a possibility of disinvesting in the future) to own railway infrastructure, and delink it from the Railways.

It suggested an Indian railway manufacturing company to replace all existing production units and another holding company for railway stations.

The panel urged delinking of RPF from the Railways, and handing over railway schools to Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and pruning of railway medical services.

It also suggested setting up a regulator – with statutory backing and independent of the railway ministry as well as the Railway Board – for fixing tariff, determining cost of service, managing track access, setting technical standards among other things, after private players were allowed to run freight and passenger trains.

The panel said it could be called the Railway Regulator Authority of India (RRAI).

However, All-India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) today strongly opposed the report saying “it is an attempt to privatise Railways.”

Rejecting the report, AIRF General Secretary Shiva Gopal Mishra said it is a replica of Rakesh Mohan and Prakash Tandon Committee reports.

“The report of the Rakesh Mohan Committee was rejected by the then NDA Government in a seminar presided over by Nitish Kumar, the then Minister for Railways, wherein full board, all the federations of the railwaymen, were present in Vadodara Railway Staff College,” he said.

Mishra said this report has given a roadmap for privatisation of Railways as a whole, which will not help the users in particular and the country.

He appreciated few points given in the report regarding dividend, reimbursement of subsidy, setting up of training, R&D, IT centres and universities.

He, however, criticised the report for privatisation of medical services, education system and suggestion of outsourcing of almost all the activities presently done by the Railwaymen.

PTI

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