Few could have imagined that the railways would turn into an instrument of discord. Yet, that is what has happened over the creation of the Salem railway division. Kerala is upset over the Palakkad railway division being split while Tamil Nadu badly wanted a division at Salem.
It’s time that such fission is stopped and the system de-politicized. The railways has always been hobbled by populism. So long as it was restricted to a few jobs, it did not do much damage.
What is alarming is that such populism has now reached the level of powerful state politicians whom no railway minister can afford to antagonize.
Creation of more zones and divisions only localizes jobs and contracts and the latter become the source of perpetuating interest groups. Efficiency and profits take a back seat. Railways need more revenue for expansion and safety requirements. Such experiments as the one on in Salem only derail these objectives.