New Delhi: The government on Thursday said over one lakh vacancies in Railways will be filled up during this fiscal, including the safety related posts, and the e-booking site will be upgraded to enable one million ticket sale per day.
Railway Minister Mukul Roy said while 75,000 candidates have been recruited following the streamlining of the examination process, "1.44 lakh candidates are proposed to be recruited during 2012-13. This will also include the safety related posts".
He said this in Rajya Sabha while winding up discussion on the Railway Appropriation Bill, which was later returned to Lok Sabha.
Promising that safety will be provided the definite thrust and "railway is duty-bound towards this end", he said all unmanned railway level crossings will be done away with in the next 10 years with road over-bridges and under-bridges.
In this context, the minister said the number of unmanned level crossings have come down from 20,786 in 1995 to 13,471 as of today while manned level crossings have increased from 15,435 to 18,305 during the said period.
Noting that renewed thrust will be put on PPP initiatives and a focused approach on utilisation of vacant land and air space, he said their endeavour would also be on bringing the railway's operating ratio at a "healthy level".
Roy blamed the weakened financial position of the railways to the implementation of the sixth pay commission and downturn in world economy and said they were "striving to improve the financial position".
He said the outlay for railway for the 12th Plan Period would be 7.35 lakh crore of which 2.04 lakh will be received through budgetary support.
Roy said efforts would be made to mobilise additional funds through advertisements at railway stations and use of vacant railway lands.
Roy said he would urge Finance Minister and Prime Minister to increase budgetary allocation to railways considering its vital importance to the nation.
Talking about the huge rush at the railway reservation counters and the problems faced while accessing e-booking website, he said a new Rs 55 crore project for upgradation of the website with the help of CRIS will be taken up.
"With this one million ticket booking per day could be done," he said.
The minister said funding would not be a problem in taking up new projects and pinned much hope on the proposed Pradhan Mantri Rail Vikas Yojana to fund socio-economic projects.
"Rail should not be treated as a commercial entity. We have to take socio-economic project into considerations as well," he said, adding, response of the state governments have been encouraging in this regard.
Roy said he would personally reply to every member who wrote to him and would be visiting Guwahati after the Budget session to assess the wishes of the people of the North Eastern states and review project works in the region.
Earlier, criticising his party colleague and former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi for hiking rail fares, Derek O'Brien (Trinamool) said "between 2009 and May 2011 under Mamata Banerjee, the Railways came up with a very time bound vision document 2020.
"My suggestion to the Railway Minister would be to stay focused on it so that this brilliant organisation can continue to be the lifeline of the country," O'Brien said.
Several members voiced their concern over the poor financial health of Indian Railways, with Bashistha Narain Singh (JD-U) demanding a vision document highlighting the roadmap to tone up its resources and finances.