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Press Releases

Statement Issued by Shri Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Congress Parliamentary Party, Lok Sabha & Shri R P N Singh

The Indian National Congress stands for progress, development, innovation and new technology, which is why the Congress-UPA Government had signed an agreement with Japan in 2013, which wouldrevolutionize the Indian Railways. This was a $7 Billion contract envisaged under the Delhi-Mumbai Economic Corridor that would have also lead to the introduction of Bullet Trains. The 2013 agreement mentioned the details of the High Speed Railway Line between the Mumbai-Ahmedabad routes. This would have increased our GDP by 0.5% and would have created crores of new jobs.

However it is a matter of deep concern that while the Prime Minister, once again adopted a UPA project, it took him 3.5 years to come to this stage of laying a foundation stone…. Only so that it is timedwith the Gujarat Elections.

We have witnessed in the past 3.5 years, how the Prime Minister uses big ticket projects, primarily for elections and pushing projects just before the elections. Announcement of Packages and such Projects have been a  set pattern before every state election.

The Bullet train foundation stone has been laid after 3.5 years but at this rate the Bullet Train will take years and years to complete, since basics like Land Acquisition, intricate details etcare yet to be completed.

What is most distressing that the BJP Government is focusing on this one Big Project at the cost of Rs 1.1 Lakh Crore. It has completely abdicated its responsibility towards safety to the crores of Rail Passengers who travel daily on trains.

In 2011, The Congress-UPA had constituted a High Level Committee on Railway Safety under the chairmanship of former Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar. The Committee submitted a detailed report with 106 recommendations in 2012.

The BibekDebroy Committee appointed by the present Modi Government too had called for adopting the Kakodkar Committee's recommendations to improve safety. Although the Government claims that it had adopted 68 out of those 106 recommendations, according to the written replies of the Railway Ministry itself- only 20 recommendations are in final stages of implementation. It seems that the rest of the report is gathering dust in some corner of Rail Bhawan ! The Committee recommended a total financial investment on Railway Safety to the tune of Rs 1,00,000 crore over a five year period. The CAG and the World Bank have severly castigated the style of functioning of the Railway Ministry.

Diminishing Status of Railways & Endangering Lives of Common People under BJP Government.

  • 259 passengers have been killed, 973 injured in 29 major Railway Accidents since the Modi Government took office.

  • India led the world in Railway Accidents, by recording the maximum number of causalities and accidents in 2016 in any country. This has been the highest in a decade.

  • As much as 40% of 1219 line sections of Indian Railways are congested beyond 100% capacity, thus resulting in lack of safety. On 247 High density line sections, Congestion rate is even higher.

  • 1.42 lakh (posts for safety staff remain unfilled across India, which, experts say, is a major concern and clear case of official apathy. Total number of vacancies in the Safety Categories including Group C & Group D (Front Line Categories) is 1,25,754.

  • More than 1 Lakh Crore rupees will be needed to upgrade signaling system and strengthening of tracks. It is only in its third year, did the Modi Government realize that it needed to create a Rail Safety Fund. After much coercion and requests from the Railway Ministry, the Finance Minister, Shri ArunJaitley announced in his 2017-18 Budget that a 'Railway Safety Fund' shall be created with an initial corpus of Rs 5000 Crore only.

  • Every fifth train accident in the last two years occurred because of unmanned level crossings. Between April 2015 and March 2017, 98 people lost their lives at such crossings due to train accidents.

  • According to information provided in Rajya Sabha in August by Minister of State for Railways, Rajen Gohain, there are 7,701 such crossings across the country. Gujarat tops the list with 1,895 unmanned level crossings (across broad and narrow gauge operations of the Railways), followed by Uttar Pradesh with 1,112 such crossings.

  • Six of every 10 rail accidents in recent years have happened because of mistakes by or the negligence of railway staff, according to a study by NITI Aayog.

  • Modi Government has increased Rail Fares by more than 70%.  Even for a reservation of lower berth, Railways charges Rs 50 extra. Platform ticket prices have been doubled. Freight Prices have increased by 20% each year.

  • Railways' operating ratio touches a record 109% in April –December. In the nine months to December, the national transporter ran up a record-high operating ratio of 109%, meaning it spent Rs109 to generate Rs100, reflecting the competition it is facing from airlines and road transport to carry people and freight. Still At 96.9 per cent, Railways posts worst operating ratio in 16 years last fiscal. The last time Railways clocked operating ratio this bad was in years 2000-2002.

  • Railways have missed earnings targets for the third straight year and debts have shot up. Indian Railways earned about 1,75,805 crore in 2016-17 from freight earnings, passenger revenue, catering contracts, luggage transporting fees and other miscellaneous sources.

  • Indian Railways' revenue growth at seven year low.

  • Even if you pay extra for faster travel, there is no guarantee you will reach your destination in time. Railways levied and collected Rs 11.17 crore from passengers as 'superfast' surcharges. But 21 superfast trains were late on 3,000 days out of 16,804 as they failed to attain the 'superfast' speed, says the CAG report.

  • With a CAG report calling food served by Indian Railways "unfit for human consumption”, the Ministry of Railways has come out with a list of bizarre steps that it is taking to improve catering services. Stating that the provision of catering services for passengers with varied choices is an "onerous task”, and that they should prefer to bring their own food, the Railway Ministry mocked the crores of rail passengers.

  • The unpopular flexible fare scheme of Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto is one such anti people step which is even contrary to the basic principle of free market economy which fixes prices on demand and supply. While the passenger ends up paying 50 per cent extra fare even when the trains are running with many seats empty. As a result of this ill-conceived policy, even Air fares are cheaper than a train ticket on many routes.

  • The BJP which has promised 'Bullet Trains' has done away with the 'Railway Budget' which was a reflection of the status and capacity of the Railways. In the Last Financial Budget- Railway was only given a 3 minute dedication!

  • While the Prime Minister makes fake claims of Railway expansion from the Red fort, his own Government reduces the budgetary allocation of 'Construction of New Rail Lines' by 12%.

We have seen horrific Rail accidents in the past couple of years, while Rs 1.1 Lakh crores are required for Rail Safety, this Govt has actually allocated only 5% of that sum so far.

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