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Gowda to discuss roadmap for railways with Modi


New Delhi, May 27 :

Newly sworn-in Railway Minister D.V. Sadanand Gowda Tuesday said there are many challenges facing the Indian Railways and he would discuss with Prime Minister Narendra Modi what should be done to get it back on track.

“I would discuss with my prime minister what is his idea and which aspect we should give focus on,” Gowda said.

Sadanand Gowda, Railway Minister
Sadanand Gowda, Railway Minister

“I need another 10 days’ time to come before the public to explain what is the roadmap,” he added.

During the election campaign, Modi promised to modernise the Indian public carrier, used by 23 million passengers and hauling 2.7 million tonnes of freight every 24 hours.

It is the third largest rail network in the world, but lack of adequate investment and populist measures such as non-revision of fares has bled the country’s biggest public employer and an important logistic sector.

Government panels set up by the UPA government had called for greater investments and reforms in tariffs to generate revenue. The Planning Commission, the Rakesh Mohan Committee, and the Sam Pitroda panel also had proposed a hike in fares to generate revenue.

In the 2013-14 fiscal, its revenue target fell short by over 18 percent.

Others have recommended corporatising the railways and allowing foreign direct investment in the sector.

Asked about running bullet trains, which Modi talked about during the poll campaign, Gowda said, “I wil discuss with him, certainly”.

Safety was also another issue facing the ministry.

“Safety is one of the important factors that needs to be taken care of by the railway ministry,” said Gowda.

On Monday, 25 passengers were killed and 100 injured as the Gorakhdham Express rammed into a stationary freight train in Sant Kabir Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh.

Gowda will take charge of the ministry later in the evening after attending the first cabinet meeting.