Focus on safety, modernisation in Rail Budget: Assocham

The government should focus more on safety and modernisation besides improving existing track and separation of passenger and freight train lines in the forthcoming Rail Budget, Assocham today said.

In its survey of about 7,000 people, the chamber claimed that about 65 per cent of the people voted in favour of moratorium on new passenger trains and wants Railway Budget to focus on safety and modernisation.

"The passengers want trains to run at much higher speed, even at 180 to 200 kms per hour and heavy investment in safety related areas like more efficient signalling, GPS based train control," it said.

Assocham President Rajkumar Dhoot said that although India has one of the largest rail network, it lacks corporate culture.

"There is no escape from building a modern, scientifically designed and ICT based railway system," it said.

The survey also said that the large private sector participation in railways will be possible if investors are convinced that government is committed to run it as a profitable entity.

It suggested for a three-way split of the undertaking with the passenger and freight sections becoming separate entities and the operations alone under the direct control of the Railway Board.

"The financial arrangement could be worked out with the assets being owned by the Railway Board and treated as leased out to the two corporations dealing with passenger and freight customers," it said.

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is scheduled to present the rail budget on February 26.

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