Slowdown in economy not to impact Railways' performance

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New Delhi, Sep 17 (UNI) The economy may be showing signs of a slowdown, but there is no let up in the spectacular growth story of the Railways, which is poised to produce the best ever results this year.

''The fourth year of Mr Lalu Prasad, who scripted the phenomenal turnaround of the Railways, will register a record performance in all segments,'' a top ministry official said today.

All targets set in the Railway Budget 2007-08 would be overachieved, be it the operating ratio, freight loading or cash surplus, he said, trashing criticisms that the turnaround is largely a jugglery of statistics.

''All the apprehensions of the impact of a slowdown in the economy on the Railways are unfounded as it would maintain a double-digit growth in all the critical segments -- passenger, freight, parcel and sundry.'' The Railway Budget had projected a cash surplus of Rs 21,578 crore, an operating ratio of 79.6 per cent and freight loading at 785 million tonnes. All this would be achieved and more.

Of course, there were some problems in the beginning of the fiscal in the coal, cement, iron ore and steel sectors, which were threatening to make a dent in the railways' operations.

''These problems have now been sorted out and this has enabled the railways to sustain its growth momentum,'' he said.

The Railways have been operating for 154 years now and never before has it achieved the kind of results which would be shown this fiscal, he said.

Pointing out that the Railways works on the Infosys' business module -- promise less, deliver more -- he said, ''Our performance is not a fluke or a flash in the pan, and we will prove it February 2008 when the next budget is presented in Parliament.'' MORE UNI

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