Cabinet nod likely for private investment in last mile rail link projects
Minister of Road Transport and Highways C.P. Joshi, who was recently given additional charge of the Railways, shied away from commenting on rail tariff hike for passengers travelling in non/AC. . But he did indicate his support for a rail tariff regulator.
The Planning Commission has been pushing for a rail tariff regulator for long, but the proposal had been set aside by former non-Congress Railway Ministers such as Lalu Prasad from the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Mamata Banerjee from the Trinamool Congress (TMC).
The exception was TMC’s Dinesh Trivedi, who proposed it in the Railway Budget earlier this year, but the proposal was dropped by his successor, Mukul Roy. The regulator could be a first step towards insulating rail passenger fares from politicians, as it could indicate a cost break-up, provide a link with fuel costs, and decide the extent of cross-subsidisation permissible between freight and passenger fares.
“I am familiarising myself with the Railways,” said Joshi, speaking at the Economic Editors’ Conference on Monday. He added that service tax introduced from October 1, was required to bring in the goods and services tax regime.


Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal said the Railways was likely to get Cabinet nod for attracting private investment in last mile rail link projects such as port and mine connectivity. For the 12th Plan period (2012-17), the Railways has an investment size of Rs 5,19,000 crore, almost 2.5 times more than that of the Eleventh Plan period.
“This will include Gross Budgetary support of Rs 1,94,000 crore, market borrowings of Rs 1,20,000 crore, and about Rs 1,00,000 crore from private sector for public-private partnership projects,” Mittal added.
Road Transport and Highways Secretary, A.K. Upadhyay, said the Transport Ministry was working towards complete digitisation of vehicle and driving licence data. When completed, vehicle owners will not need to re-register vehicles when they move across locations.
“We have already captured electronic data for 9.96 crore registration certificates and 2.6 crore driving licences. Work is on to digitise remaining legacy data of 5.29 crore registration certificates, and 5.86 crore driving licences, he said.
Meanwhile, demanding an assured return on pensions — lacking in the new pension scheme — the Indian Railways’ largest union body, the All India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF) has called for a hunger strike on Tuesday.
The Railways has 1.4 million employees, out of which AIRF has a membership of 1.2 million. “We have been seeking restoration of old pension scheme for those employees who joined after 2004. The employees would prefer predictable pension instead of promises of higher level of pension,” said Shivagopal Mishra, Secretary General, AIRF.
The Railways has a pension bill of almost Rs 16,000 crore every year.