Railway Budget 2015: Read Full text of AAP's reaction

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New Delhi, Feb 2015: As the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu presented his maiden Railway Budget 2015 in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, Feb 26, he outlined four goals for improvement in the Indian Railways over the next five years, among many other reforms.

The goals are: giving a huge boost to customer experience, ensuring safer travel, modernisation of infrastructure and making Indian Railways financially self-sustainable, the minister said while presenting his maiden budget in the Lok Sabha.

Here is the Full Text of AAP's reaction on Rail Budget.

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The AAP is of the view that the first rail budget of the BJP-led NDA government turned out to be a missed opportunity. The Narendra Modi government could have used its maiden rail budget to spell out its long term vision for the improvement of the health of railways, but it is unfortunately missing.

The people of the county had expected that the new government to lay down its roadmap to improve the efficiency of the railways by curbing the price distortion and corruption, two major problems currently plaguing this critical sector, but the budget appears to be silent on addressing these long term concerns and belies expectations of a long term vision.

There is nothing concrete in this budget on the improvement of safety and maintenance of the massive railway network across the country. Nearly 2.5 lakh posts are lying vacant in the railways and out of these 1.6 lakh posts are in departments directly concerned with the railways safety, but nothing has been done to fill up these posts.

The common man (aam aadmi) forms the bulk of railway passenger traffic, but the focus on such passengers is missing. Infact, the focus of the budget provides a reason for alarm in this aspect - the trend in the budget is to focus on the upper class of commuters, whose number is miniscule in terms of passenger traffic.

Facilities should be provided to all categories of passengers, but the focus on those who can spend more for facilities does not set a healthy trend.

The railways minister has made an honest confession about the large number of pending projects. The AAP agrees with the government that the focus should be on execution of existing projects, but in this respect too, the minister did not mention any roadmap on how the government plans to complete the job.

The AAP, in principle, does not oppose Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in railways, but the minister's announcement did not specify in which field does the NDA government propose to invite the FDI. The impression created is that the government is ready to go ahead with the FDI in all fields, except in operations. There are many sensitive sectors in Railways, like the one handling the spectrum that cannot be opened to foreign investors.
The hurry to attract FDI in Railways could create a dangerous situation and the government should hold widespread consultations before going ahead with the introduction of FDI in railways.

The thrust on implementing the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in railways is a dangerous trend. The concept of PPP model so far in the country has been that the public sector bears the risk and the private sector walks away with profit, such a model can spell disaster for the railways.
The AAP does not agree with the minister's announcement about the proposal to restructure the Railway Board. It is one of the rare board/corporation in the government sector which is not controlled by the IAS officers, and is run by professionals.

Unless the government clearly specifies what kind of restructuring it wants, the announcement appears to be an attempt to undermine the Board's autonomy. Restructuring for improving the fiscal health of railways and bringing professionalism is welcome, but it cannot be allowed to become ministry Vs board fight.

The Aam Aadmi Party also sees a regional imbalance in announcement of new train services. A government cannot ignore the requirements of one region appease the other.

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