For the better part of a decade now, the railways have been under a ruinous political spell. This is well known. The effects of that binge are now emerging.
On Sunday, the minister of state for railways, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said as much as Rs.2.5 trillion will be required to complete all the projects announced by the ministry. The Anil Kakodkar committee on railway safety had estimated the money needed for safety related improvements at Rs.1 trillion over five years.
These are not piffling sums, and the markets and the government combined can’t supply them. The usual Indian option of cutting corners and making a hash job of project implementation will do no good. A better option is to drastically prune the project list to the bare essentials. The remaining ones must await a substantial hike in passenger tariffs and the return of a sane political climate.