Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday underlined the need for the Indian Railways to look beyond traditional sources of revenue.
Advertisements could be a big source of revenue for the railways, he said, adding that new equity models between the central government, state government and the private sector were being worked out to cater to the investment needs.
“The railways needs structural changes and needs investment. The railways is suffering only because of lack of investments. But at the same time we must not lose sight of issues customer services, freight punctuality etc,” said Prabhu at the 89th annual general meeting of Ficci here.
Pointing to the rising cost of operations and the extreme low freight growth, he said the railways was working on improving its non fare revenue.
“Traditionally railways have relied on freight and fare for revenue but that is not going to work because the cost of operations has gone up significantly. The biggest burden of the pay commission is on railways, the largest employer in the country.
“Moreover, the growth of freight has been extremely low this year,” he said.
About private participation, Prabhu said the railways have got two big ticket investments one from US-based GE and another from French multinational Alstom in the field of locomotive manufacturing.
“The orders will be to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore,” he said.
He said that various equity models were being employed in the railways’ station redevelopment project.
While the Habibganj railway station in Madhya Pradesh was being redeveloped on public-private partnership, Gandhinagar station in Guajarat was being redeveloped by the satte and Central governments and Bhubaneswar railway station is being developed by Odisha government, he said.
Later talking to media persons, Prabhu said the railways is endeavoring in a big way to promote cashless transactions.
“Railways is working in a big way to promote cashless transactions. We have also developed a software available on phone enabling payments for all railway services.
“Many people complaint that one needs a smartphone to avail the cashless transactions. So we are exploring ways on how can non-smart phones can also be used for such transactions,” he said adding that efforts are on to ensure that all payments to the railways by vendors are also cashless.