Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Unions appeal to PM to bailout railways

New Delhi, Feb 14 : Drawing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's attention to the "miserable condition of the railways", the 1.2 million member-strong All India Railwaymen's Federation has appealed for a Rs.50,000 crore package to pull the national transporter out of its deep financial crisis.
A copy of the letter written by AIRF general secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra, dated Feb 11, was released to media Tuesday.

"We want to draw your attention to the miserable condition of the railways. The government should give a package worth Rs.50,000 crore and dispense with the dividend it pays to the centre to bail it out," said Mishra in his letter to the prime minister.

Stating that the railways were in deep financial crisis, he said they need government help like the national highways, ports and power houses.

Due to poor financial management over the past few years and no hike in passenger fares for the past decade, the railways have an earnings shortfall of Rs.7,000 crore a month before the railway budget for 2012-13 is presented March 14.

With all its earnings going into running the network, there is nothing left for replacement and renewal of existing assets or to take up any development projects.

Interestingly, both the finance ministry and the planning commission have been asking the railways to revise passenger fares to generate its own resources. Both have refused its bailout appeals earlier.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has not allowed Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi to hike passenger fares fearing the move might be seen as anti-poor. (IANS)

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