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Prabhu allays privatisation fear, seeks private investment

“The railways wants private capital for carrying out its enormous task. Getting private capital is not harmful to public nor to anybody. There should not be any misgiving about it. It is not privatisation,” he said in an informal chat with reporters here.

Station development, utilisation of advertising space and commercialisation of vacant land are some of the areas which are being explored by the railways for attracting private investment, besides allowing 100 per cent FDI in the rail sector.
Railway unions have been raising their voice against any move towards privatisation in the railway sector.

Prabhu said at present, the railways is in the need of about Rs 6 lakh crore to Rs 8 lakh crore for completion of its all ongoing projects.

He said a White Paper is being prepared to be presented in Parliament which will have all details.
“First, there will be a diagnosis, then solution. White Paper is the diagnosis and then we will formulate a plan as a solution to the problems,” he said 

When his attention was drawn towards the claim of Rs 90,000 crore surplus made by the then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, he said the prevailing condition in the railways is the result of the policy pursued in the past few years. “It is not because of recent happening. It is because of last 20/25 years that the railways has come to this pass,” he said, without naming anybody.

“I am not blaming anybody for this. Whatever problems we will try to solve these,” he added. Emphasising on the drastic need for improvement in the railways, he said, “Improvement in customer service, safety upgradation, and modernisation of rail infrastructure is the need of the hour and these require money.” 

He further said there are two sources of getting additional funds. “One is passenger fare, the other is gross budgetary support (GBS).” 

Prabhu, considered to be pro-reform said, “We need additional resources to improve customer service. Freight tariff is already high. Passengers will happily pay more if we improve service.”  On attracting private investment, the Railway Minister said a new model is being worked out for development of stations with private participation. “It is in the final stage and we will take it to the Cabinet for its approval before launching the model for private players.” 
He said there is also a remendous scope in earning more from the advertising in rail premises. “We can earn Rs 10,000 crore from advertising alone. The scope and benefit for advertisers in railways are much more than other areas as there is a larger captive audience for longer hours.” 
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