View: Making Indian Railways take off like Civil Aviation Sector

Crisis creates opportunity. The coronavirus pandemic is a unique phenomenon and incident of the sort that has not been seen in the course of our lifetime where the service of Indian Railways and Airways was completely halted for months together resulting in significant loss to the exchequer. For the government, it is an opportunity to usher in reforms. The 1991 economic crisis led to de-licensing in many sectors and major liberalisation of the economy.

The desire to resuscitate the economy from the impact of the current coronavirus health pandemic gave the government leeway to introduce reforms in agricultural produce marketing, and introduce structural reforms in seven sectors—Coal, Minerals, Defense, Civil Aviation, Power Distribution, Space and Atomic Energy—thus enabling greater participation of private players in these sectors. Recently, the government announced permitting private trains on many routes. This indeed is a welcome step. However, there should be significant changes in government policies towards investment and business models that can only improve the performance of the Railway.

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