The railways would provide confirmed tickets on demand on all trains by 2020

The railways would provide confirmed tickets on demand on all trains by 2020, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Friday. This would be possible once the existing network capacity is freed up for passengers by opening up dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) by 2019 and increasing the capacity on the existing routes.

“Over the decades, the freight traffic has gone up by 1,344% and the passenger traffic by 1,642%. But the route per kilometre has increased only by 23%,” Mr. Prabhu said at the Confederation of Indian Industry Annual Session 2017-18, organised in New Delhi.

“The only way we can address this issue is by augmenting the capacity. We have put in investments worth Rs 8.5 lakh crore in high density network. We are happy to say that 16,500 km of doubling [of railway line] has been sanctioned in the last two-and-a-half years as opposed to about 20,000 km in the last 70-75 years. So when these projects are completed, there will be capacity augmentation, and we can handle more passengers,” he said.

Two-third of the railway track handled passenger traffic, which accounted for one-third of the revenues. Whereas the freight, which accounted for two-third revenues, was given the least priority. “So, when the DFCs come up, major trunk routes will operate on them, so that other track are freed for passenger traffic,” he said.

The biggest challenge for the Railways was to meet the public sector obligation along with the matching the performance of the corporate sector. The National Institute of Public, Finance and Policy would prepare a white paper to determine the actual cost incurred by the railways in meeting public sector obligations. “The revenue loss for meeting public service obligation is as high as Rs. 30,000 crore. Globally, the public service obligation is met by the government. We are not here how much can the main Budget can finance it here,” Mr. Prabhu said.

The railways were focussing in bolstering their freight and non-fare revenue. “The non-fare revenue rose 72% this year. Our target is to increase it to around Rs. 35,000 crore in the next 10 years,” he said.

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