New Delhi, March 17: Government is working on a five- pronged strategy including generating new sources of revenue and cost optimisation to put Indian railways back on track, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday, March 17 said.
This was one of the toughest years for Indian Railways, and the railway ministry is working on improving customer experience, new sources of revenue, cost optimisation, investment in infrastructure and structural reforms, he said.
Talking about new revenue sources, he said railways derive its income entirely from freight or fare, "which is not fair in my opinion and you need to get more". "So we need to explore the new sources for revenue...We are exploring the advertisement potential of railways. It is huge. There are 7 billion footfalls in a year.
You can imagine what could be the advertisement potential of railways and we are exploring that," he said here at the India Today Conclave. He also said the ministry is expanding the freight basket as the Indian railways was dependent only on few commodities.
Prabhu said huge investments in infrastructure are required to meet yesterday's need and create future requirement. The ministry is engaging National Institute of Fashion Technology and National Institute of Design for redesigning coaches and other aspects.
"We are also working on station redevelopment through 100 per cent transparent process...this process will lead to good ideas coming in so we do not want to design ourselves as CPWD design but we will do something which could be really a new icon of development," Prabhu said.
He said cost optimisation is a major strategy for railways and this year it has targeted to save Rs 3,000 crore from electricity. On structural reforms, the minister said "we are creating a Rail Development Authority to decide fare and freight....we are also trying for a holding company".
"I hope that all of this will help us over the time to put railways back on track...we are working on medication and a regime at the same time," he added. The ministry is also working on beautification of railway stations and improving customer services.
To give voice to customers, he said, "on real time basis, we offer solutions to people's problems, like medical aid." The ministry has implemented 139 Budget announcements of the previous budget despite adverse challenges, he said.
"We put 90 per cent as the operating ratio and the cost saving achieved during this year was Rs 8,720 crore. This is something unprecedented, " Prabhu said.