The Centre has no plans to privatise the Railways, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday.
“Let me make it very clear that there are no plans to privatise the Railways...,” he said at a press conference to mark his Ministry’s achievements in the past four years.
His statement comes amid concerns voiced by unions about part or full privatisation of the Railways, which has been inviting private participation in station development, infrastructure creation and some other areas.
Mr. Goyal said the Ministry was focussing on safety and pointed out that train accidents had come down from 118 in 2013-14 to 73 in 2017-18. The average annual capital expenditure in the past four years more than doubled to ₹5.29 lakh crore as against ₹2.30 lakh crore in 2009-14.
The Minister said that punctuality was affected in the short term due to the priority given to infrastructure and safety improvement, which would facilitate faster and safer operations in the long term.
On the punctuality situation, Mohammad Jamshed, Member (Traffic), Railway Board, said “We are hopeful that by March 2019, additional 5,000 km of track will be renewed. So most of the renewal arrears will be sorted… So, this will help in smooth operations.”
Mr. Goyal also launched two mobile applications: Rail Madad for registering complaints by passengers through mobile phone; and Menu On Rails for passengers to see meals on offer on trains.