According to our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Railways and post offices are the two departments which are vastly spread all over the country and if tapped judiciously can create many improvements.
As we all know, Railways are considered to be the most convenient way of traveling, especially the long distance travel. Railways are perfectly suited for the passengers as well as the bulk transport. There was a time when railways were introduced in India and it brought a huge revolution in the lives of people in India. Now, people had a mode of traveling to large distances and it used to save their time.
Along with the mode of travel, there were a lot of advantages including the easy import and export of goods and hence farmers were also getting benefits. But with the change of time, the expectations of people are also changing. With the modernization, there were certain levels of improvements in the existing railway systems, but the speed of modernization was much more than the speed of the improvements expected in the railway system. Due to this, the Indian railways and the passengers are facing huge challenges today.
Let us discuss some of these challenges in detail:
A) Operating Efficiency: Indian Railways is considered to be the fifth biggest rail network in the world. Along with the responsibility of big network, there are almost 1.3 million employees who need to be taken care of so that the operations may work smoothly. Due to this massive network, even a small problem takes many years to resolve because of the hierarchy in decision making. This problem is getting worse day by day as there are numbers of issues pending at the department end. The money required right now including the 7th pay commission is 28000 crore which is seriously a huge amount.
B) Under-Investment (Finances and accounting): There is a huge decline in the investments which is really a bad news for the railway department. As a result of under-investment, there is a decline in revenue and hence it acts as a barrier to the development and modernization wherever required. Normally, the completion time of any project after the land acquisition is 3 to 4 years but due to lack of funds, the projects are not completed within time. As far as the current investment is concerned, there is a lot of expenditure on revenue. This is high time, that the new funds need to be generated by finding the new non-government sources. This is possible only if a healthy balance sheet is maintained. Let us hope for the best. After all, it is not only a matter of country’s progress but also the comfort of common people.
C) Land acquisition and clearances: The first and foremost thing required for the railway expansion is the land clearance. As there is an increase in cost inflation, the cost of land is increasing day by day. In many states, the procedure of land clearance has become more complex and lengthy and the process of land clearance is almost still due to many problems such as clearances from the forest, wildlife etc. There were many acts passed in the constitution such as Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and new Land Acquisition Bill 2015 which have resulted in a delay in the process of new railway projects.
D) Security and punctuality of trains: The Indian railways have always been in the news headline not for the good reasons but for the bad ones. As the numbers of passengers are increasing day by day, the numbers of accidents are also increasing. This is a rising a serious concern of the people’s safety. The main reasons of accidents include the collision of two trains, the collision of the train with any other vehicle; accidents while crossing, bomb blast, fire accidents, overaged tracks, and bridges, signaling systems and a lot more.
According to a survey, almost 25% of the total railway track is due for replacement or renovation. The number of people killed in any train accident has increased from almost 1793 in 1990-1991 to 1837 in 2002-2003. Same is the case with the number of people injured. Some accidents are also due to the carelessness of people which can be avoided. The installation of automatic doors and platform seems to be impossible seeing the present situation of the railway departments. The only way to avoid these accidents is awareness and strict actions against the illegal crossing.