India Even Rajdhani was criticised, bullet train will spur economy , says Piyush Goyal

08:55  13 june  2018
08:55  13 june  2018 Source:   hindustantimes.com

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Rajdhani Express was the last “new” technology introduced by the Indian Railways, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said today, taking a jibe at critics of the bullet train including Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.

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Piyush Goyal is the Union Minister for Railways and Coal, holding the additional charge of Finance and Corporate Affairs. He is widely viewed as one of the most important policy minds in the government. Goyal spoke to Kumar Uttam and Prashant Jha about the performance of railways as the government marks its fourth year. Edited excerpts:

a man looking at the camera © Provided by Hindustan Times

The operating ratio of railways is projected to be at over 98% for last year. Does it indicate poor health of the Railways?

It’s logical with a Rs 22,000 crore additional burden on account of the seventh pay commission. We are adding 12.5% straight away to cost - 12.5% of your topline. 

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Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has slammed critics of the bullet train project, questioning those who are opposed to the introduction of new technology in Indian Railways. “The last time Indian Railways brought any new technology to India – if you can call it that – was the Rajdhani in 1969,” Goyal said

Union railway minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday defended the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, asserting that the first fast train in India - Rajdhani Express - which was introduced in 1969 between New Delhi-Howrah, also attracted criticism .

Also read on MSN: Delhi-Amritsar, Mumbai-Pune routes to get bullet trains

That (operating ratio) was bound to deteriorate, but we are working towards efficiency measures and quite confident that better purchasing, better focus on capacity utilization will bring us back on track. And we are also looking at significant investment to improve average speed, increase capacity, complete dedicated freight corridors in time. I am trying to see how we can by 2025 double the revenues of the railways.

Will diesel prices and additional hiring not put additional burden on resources?

Those are operational requirements. Certainly there will be a cost (of hiring), but many people retire as well, lowering the cost. 

The revenue excess, money left with the railways after meeting all its expenditure, too has dipped.

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Newly appointed Railways Minister Piyush Goyal pitched bullet train as the train for the future and said that "many people criticised the introduction of Rajdhani but now it is the train everyone wants to travel in".

Piyush Goyal has defended the Centre's decision to launch bullet train project in India, stating that it was part of developmental plans. Shiv Sena criticises bullet train project, calls it Modi's 'expensive dream'. Raj Thackeray hits at Centre, says will not allow Bullet Train in Mumbai.

As I said, it was because of the Seventh pay commission. Before that, in one year in 2015-16, coal freight had fallen significantly, because we did the rationalisation of coal linkages. Earlier, coal was going up and down. It used to reach Chhattisgarh from the port, then was transported to Kandla. Because of all this rationalisation, there was a dip of about Rs 4-5,000 crore in coal freight. 

Has there been a trade-off between punctuality and safety?

Safety will obviously have the prime focus for us, and that has caused us some punctuality issues. 

Track renewal has been expedited, and we did 4,400 kilometers last year. Also, infrastructure creation at this breakneck speed entails a lot of blockages of the traffic. To do electrification of 4,100 km, you will have to face blockages. And this does not happen at one place. It is done in small patches. All of these take a toll on punctuality. 22,000 trains have to move daily.

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Piyush Goyal . This bullet train will be a symbol of brotherhood between people of India and Japan," Goyal said . "Many people criticised the introduction of the Rajdhani Express, but now it is the train everyone wants to travel by.

Piyush Goyal wrote a descriptive answer on Quora on India’s need of Bullet Train . For example, we see that naysayers had also criticised the start of the Rajdhani Trains in 1968. Even the chairman of the railway board opposed it; such things keep India backward.

Why are your major infrastructure projects slow?

You don’t have details. There is huge progress. Only 20% contracts of the dedicated freight corridors were awarded till 2014, today, except the PPP, nearly 95-96% contracts have been awarded.

It must have reach 100% by now. Don’t you see these changes? The track renewal used to be 200-225 km every month earlier. After November it is 476, 576 and 640 kms per month. It’s a three-time increase. 610 km of electrification was done in 2013-14, it is 4087 km in 2017-18. It is seven times growth.

Watch video: All about Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train

(Video provided by Times of India)

How do you plan to monetise Railway’s land resources?

We tried to monetise land, but the market was slow. And we used to give 45-year lease. 

Sub-mortgage and sub-lease was not allowed. We are now going to the cabinet, to allow sub-contracts, sub-lease and 99-years lease. We have to segregate the aspect of working with railways and monetising land. Suppose you are a real estate player, you hesitate in working with railways fearing who will deal with the railway laws, design problems. We are doing it through EPC contract, so that we get high value through monetisation. So his headache is gone.

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'Nothing fake about it', says Piyush Goyal on NASA images depicting India’s rural electrification. The coming of bullet trains to India will not only boost employment but in future India will be able to export it too.''

Piyush Goyal , Minister of Railways and Coal at Government of India. Answered Nov 13, 2017 · Upvoted by. For example, we see that naysayers had also criticised the start of the Rajdhani Trains in 1968. Even the chairman of the railway board opposed it; such things keep India backward.

Also read on MSN: 508 km in 3 hours: India's first bullet train project

Do you want to move out of non core business? Such as Like running school hospital etc.

The 13 lakh employees are like our family. They work in remote areas. If someone is appointed in Jhumri Tilaiya or Gomia or some remote place in Andhra Pradesh, their kids also have the right to study in good schools. The parents of such employees get good medical facility, it is their right. 

They are also serving the nation. now if they do not get these facility they will run towards the city. They will put sifarish here for positing in city.

Also read on MSN: This is how India’s first bullet train terminal will look like

Is there then a tension between welfare and efficiency then?

This helps us to be more efficient. People are stationed there, working there, living there and they are confident about good services and facilities for their children and parents; then their efficiency improves. And in the entire Rs 2 lakh crore budget of the railways, this is very small. 

Do you propose to explore more routes for bullet trains other than Ahmedabad-Mumbai?

Which portion is to be taken, the issue of land availability and funds will have to be factored into to plan. But when modern technology comes into the country, it will also help ‘make in India’ because of the sheer volume of work. 

The areas where bullet trains will go will see economic activity, economic corridors will come up. It is a very limited definition that it is taking 1 lakh crore for bullet train. An entire area is being developed. It is safe, has 99.9% punctuality. One the one hand we want international level facility, but when you bring them you are criticised. Even Rajdhani was criticised.

Watch video: Bullet train project an 'exercise in vanity', says Manmohan Singh

(Video provided by NDTV)

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