CNBC TV18's Economic Policy Editor and Delhi Bureau Chief Siddharth Zarabi joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the Railway Budget 2013.
Q. Dear Siddharth, There are so many things that the minister is saying, about good new features but it takes such a long time to implement stuff in our country. So how should he minister plan to turn that around Asked by: Narayan
A. The turnaround of the Railways will take at least 5 years. Unfortunately, politics does not provide for such a scenario.
Q. The quality of our coaches, platforms, food etc are downright bad. No steps to continually improve in these areas, could be seen, what do u think Asked by: Narayan
A. The cost to amenities ratio of the Railways is to blame for this. In addition, the bloated bureaucracy of the Railways ensures that a lot of costs are unavoidable.
Q. Sir, don't you think that Indian Railways needs complete revamp? Asked by: anurag
A. Yes, but the revamp will take much more time than just one year. It can only be done through political will and by ensuring that the Railways Ministry does not land in the hands of incompetent ministers.
Q. Will this budget add to inflation? Asked by: Srinivasa
A. It will, to some extent. The key is off-course that the Fuel Adjustment Formula will mean at least two price revisions every year, if not more.
Q. Past 8 years the railway budget was just a mockery of high-handedness and show. Will anything substantial come out after this budget? Asked by: EMathew
A. Yes. some good beginnings have been made in this Railways Budget. Let us hope that politics will not derail this reform.
Q. Other countries have moved to safer and faster transportation by rail, but we have never found the need or the time to invest in these projects. Mostly we still go by the rail created by the British. Would we see a private-public partnership in the railways? Asked by: EMathew
A. PPP is a difficult, time consuming and expensive proposition in the Indian context - as we have seen in various sectors. Private operators cannot fulfill social objectives and the Railways has a huge social burden to cater to. There will be PPP's - but limited as far as the Railways is concerned.
Q. Hi Siddharth, inspite of Railways being the biggest means of Transport in our country, why do you still see that it is running in losses, is it due to bad Financial Management or may be some off hand swindling of money? Asked by: Rakesh
A. The reason is years of mismanagement and window dressing of accounts. The road to recovery will be a long one, indeed.