Sir, first we convey our
hearty congratulations for turning around the Indian Railways and
the international award given to IR recently. When others had virtually
written it off, you not only put a brake on IR’s journey on a slippery
slope to disaster, you have brought it back on rails. What is the
key to your success as chief of Asia’s largest rail network?
firm determination and sensitivity towards the last person of the
What are three main reasons that you
identified for such a collapsing state before you stepped into the
Rail Bhavan? Was it a leadership problem or management problem or
due to poor utilization of assets?
• On the leadership level one has to enhance the spirit of the workers.
Instead of facing the market, privatisation and retrenchment were
• On the management level passenger fare and freight were steeply
enhanced without understanding the problems of the market.
• Value of own properties was not understood, neither attention was
paid on their maintenance nor the assets fully exploited.
Some say, more than anything else,
increase in axle load and resultant growth in revenue is the main
contributory factor to Railways turnaround? Is that true or there
are something more, which were lacking in earlier regime? While
talking about increased axle load, to what extent tracks are safe
and secured to bear the additional load burden?
is not so. A big turnaround cannot occur just by increasing the axle
load. Besides this policy, we adopted several policies as per the
requirements of the market, viz:
• We brought down the wagon turnaround time from
7 days to 5 days. As a result 30 percent more wagons are now available.
Due to increased availability of wagons, availability of goods trains
has increased, no more queues are there and our participation in
the carriage of goods enhanced.
• Price policy was adopted as per market requirements.
• Offered discount on trains returning empty.
• I made surprise inspections and got overloading stopped.
• Introduced 'Tatkal' and 'Upgradation' schemes which were popular
• Controlled the loss on catering and parcel and halved it.
• Increased the number of coaches in popular passenger trains. Newly
designed compartments providing more sitting space have been introduced.
As a result more number of passengers could travel. Thus our per
unit cost has gone down and income increased.
• So far as safety is concerned; we have increased the expenditure
on maintenance of our properties. Now as soon as any of our properties
ages out, we change it.
One of most redeeming features of railways operation
today under your leadership is the significant reduction in Operating
Ratio. From over 98 at one point of time, it has come down markedly
to around 77. Is it due to changes in investment priorities?
the railway, generally more fixed cost means whether you run a train
of four compartments or 24, there is not much difference in the cost.
Whether you run the carriage or not, depreciation is bound to occur.
That is why we have been paying attention to reduce the per-unit cost
and to maximize utilization of properties and
• Made investments in schemes yielding higher profits in lesser time,
• Introduced trains such as the Garib Rath,
• Curtailed the compartments from empty-running trains and added those
to overcrowded trains. As a result the Operating Ratio (OR) now stands
at 78 percent.
Your predecessors had given more emphasis
on gauge conversion so far as investment is concerned and it is said
to be one of the main reasons of abnormally high OR. In terms of investment,
what is your top three priority segments? What percentage of total
planned investment you would be earmarking for those priority segments?
order to maintain the face-lift of the railways, fine admixture of
short-term and long-term policies is the unique feature of our investment
policy. On the one hand we are investing in such a manner so as to
earn more profit in lesser time. For example, we converted siding
and terminal point into full rake, provided the 24-hour loading and
unloading facility. On the other hand under long-term policy, we are
also making investments in projects like Dedicated Freight Corridor,
new wheel, wagon and coach factory so that better opportunities remain
available to us for facing the market in future.
As you are aware, at one time, Railways
used to be one of the major revenue contributors to Indian federal
budget. After major setbacks, net revenue of Railways in last two
years has significantly increased. When we will see Indian Railways
again emerging as a major, if not the largest, single revenue contributor
to India’s general budget?
is a very big empire. By earning a profit of Rs 20,000 crore, we are
in a strong financial position today. We are paying dividend on time.
Due to better working results the Railway is no more a burden like
the old one. Today we are not a burden but self-dependent. Since we
are a part of the government hence in some form or other we are adding
strength to the nation financially. Today the image of the Railways
has brightened so much that we are getting loans from abroad at low
rates. We are executing our projects in the country with our own resources
and all this is being done while carrying out social commitments simultaneously.
The financial stability we have established in the public sector is
an example in itself.
At what stage is ‘Dedicated freight
corridor’ project ? What would be funding pattern?
foundation stone of the Eastern and Western corridors have been laid
by the Prime Minister. The Indian Railways will construct these corridors
with the assistance of the Government of India and the private sector.
Dedicated freight corridor will come before the nation as a miracle.
Talks are afoot with various financial organizations along with Japan's
Jaica to acquire loan on attractive rates. Shortly some useful decision
will be taken taking into account the greater interest of the country.
What is the scope of FDI in railways?
Are you getting any feeler from potential foreign investors to participate
in railways mega projects? If so, what type of projects they are interested
are chalking out an ambitious plan for the development and modernization
of the Railways at a total cost of Rs 250,000 crore in a phased manner
over a period of coming five years. Out of this massive investment,
a substantial part is expected to be raised through PPP. We are encouraging
the PPP in the construction of Dedicated Freight Corridor, coaches,
wheels and loco factory, budget hotel, construction of world class
stations, agricultural outlets etc.
Information Technology is going to be
a major plank of Indian Railways’ future growth plan. What is your
investment plan for IT? What are the major focus areas in IT? To what
extent you expect IT would strengthen the bottom line of IR?
today is the age of IT. Railway has always been in favour of maximum
use of the IT. In the Indian Railways. we had already introduced the
Passenger Reservation System for enhancing convenience of the travellers.
Today, people from any corner of the world can get their reservation
done to travel from any part of the country to the other. With mobile
and Internet facility people sitting at home can get their tickets
themselves. Not only this, we have installed touch screens and display
boards that are providing people all kinds of information regarding
status of reservation, arrival and departure of trains and other information
concerning the journey. In the current fiscal year’s Budget we have
decided to provide palm top computers to the TTEs for the convenience
of the travellers. With its help they would be able to convey information
of vacant berths to the next station so that wait list travellers
will be able to get seats.
respect of passenger transport besides the PRS, we are introducing
Coaching Operation Information Systems as well as "Know the
status of the trains" system with which the status of any train
can be seen through the computer. Very recently Magic Number 139
has been introduced which is an Integrated Train Enquiry System.
This will make getting information of the railways convenient. This
will be made still more efficient. We want to make the investment
substantially multiplied for the IT in the forthcoming Five Year
On-line service is getting increasing
importance in IR. E-procurement is one such major initiative of IR.
What is your plan about the e tendering? Indian Railways through various
divisions of its zonal administration are floating tenders running
into billions of rupees every year. By which time you expect to launch
e-tendering system in the entire rail network which will help bidders
to participate in tenders on-line instead of going through rigors
of huge paperwork? Will you be outsourcing this massive job to competent
IT firms in the country?
are giving serious thought to E-Tendering and this arrangement will
be introduced shortly in Indian Railways. Not only in respect of tender
of the railways but also in making recruitment, we are encouraging
online facility. This is helping in busting the nexus of the tender
mafia as well as according transparency in this entire work. There
is immense possibility to use IT in the railways and we are trying
to use the IT on every level including the E-Tender
What would be your response to those
who say turnaround is a very difficult job but once it is achieved,
to sustain it and to take it to a greater height is far more difficult
far as turn-round of the Railways is concerned we have achieved this,
as stated earlier, with the diligence of our 14.5 lakh officers and
workers and it has persistently improved. Thus, it is wrong to think
that the turn-round will not be sustained. I.I.M. Ahmedabad had carried
out a research on this and the students of Harvard, Wharton, Sloan
etc. foreign universities had also put the same question to me and
I had told them also just this that if work is done with honesty,
commitment, vision keeping national interest in mind then it is not
an impossible thing and now our third line is to be constructed. Wheel
and Loco factory in Chhapra, Coach factory in Rae Bareily are being
set up. I have stated time and again that if development is not politicized,
the country can move forward and we have proved this with our performance.
I say to all the people that this is not my Railway, it is the Railway
of the entire country and the entire country has to make it move forward
and take rest only after making it No. 1 in the world.