New Delhi: Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is set to present his maiden Rail Budget on Tuesday. Being the first Congress minister to be presenting the Rail Budget in 17 years, Bansal faces the challenge of reviving the Railways. But the repercussions may be an unhappy Opposition and unhappy passengers as a fare hike looks imminent. Following are the big questions that the Indian Railway faces:
Why must India invest in high speed trains?
China has 93,000 km of tracks and is likely to lay 6,000 km more by 2015. Europe is likely to triple its network by 2020. Britain is likely to invest 30 billion pound over five years in railways.
What is the fate of modernisation and safety committees?
The Kakodkar Committee's 5-year Analysis says:
More staff is killed on duty than passengers. It says unmanned level crossings are the deadliest. Derailments are least lethal. In all 15,000 people die in rail accidents; 6,000 in Mumbai alone.
The Kakodkar Committee advised the railways to spend Rs 1 lakh crore over five years, set up an independent Rail Safety Authority and replace 43,000 coaches that do not have anti-climbing features.
Has the Railway Board shown leadership?
Advisor to the Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure Sam Pitroda says the Railway Board Chairman should be the CEO. He advises to install separate heads for freight traffic, passenger services, infrastructure, technology and business heads for key commodity groups.
Can Pawan Bansal make a difference?
Bansal is the first Congress Rail Minister after 17 years. He hiked passenger fares last month and has warned of another fare hike. He may announce an engine factory at Sonepat, Haryana. He is also likely to set up a rail tariff authority.