Bengaluru, Feb 24: Ahead of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu's presenting the Railway Budget of 2016-17 on Thursday (February 25), former chiefs of the Railway Boards believe the former would have a challenge in his hand as public utility has been slipping on its targets, a Hindu report said on Wednesday.
K C Jena, who served as the chairman of the board between 2007-09, said in a recent Assocham discussion that the railways has not been able to keep pace with the plan. He said the total earnings, including both freight and passengers, have went down sharply and on the top of it, there is also a burden of the 7th Pay Commission of Rs 32,000 crore, the report said.
Jena suggested bettering freight businesses, raising passenger fares, reducing working expenditure, reducing staff strength, among others ways, to improve the state of things.
R N Malhotra, who also served as the board chief between 2001-02, supported the idea of increasing the fares and said Prabhu's second budget should focus on reducing project delays through a proper management of the rail construction firms. He said the viability of projects should be properly assessed before taking them up.
Last year, contrary to the general practice, no new trains or manufacturing units were announced in the budget.
The former chiefs also felt that the railways should focus on raising freight revenue on a priority basis since the financial health of the sector mainly depends on it.