Famous Railway Ministers and their influence on Railways
Indian railways, largest employer in the world and transports 23 million passengers a day and 2.18 million tons of goods with 9,218 train engines.
Started in 1853, Indian Railways has taken tremendous changes in its work, development and capacity. With special budget for railways and its clear plan of action for the development. Ministry of Indian Railways had always been given a special attention in budget session and parliament.
Starting from John Mathai 1947, who was India’s first railway minister (Independent India) to Suresh Prabhu till date plan and execution of Indian Railways has been evolving continually.
Here are few famous Railway Ministers and their work, post 2000.
Mamatha Benerjee (1999-2001, 2009-2014)
While serving as Railway Minister twice Mamatha Benerjee has her own impression on Indian railways
Her notable initiatives includes
- SMS updates to passengers regarding reservation status, train timings and cancellation.
- Railway research center at IIT Kharagpur
- Railway Link between Agartala and Ankhaura in Bangladesh
- Started 520 hospitals and 60 schools on Railway surplus lands
- Initiated houses for Railway employee, Free traveling for cancer patients in AC3.
- Started Matribhumi, Karmabhumi and Janma bhumi special trains.
- Opened Public Private partnership in Railway projects.
Nithish Kumar (1998-1999, 2001-2004)
Nithish kumar was union minister for railways and surface transport in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Government.
Despite short period of his tenure he brought new age reforms in railways.
- Internet booking facility for passengers
- Started Tatkal booking process for last minute booking
- Introduced high speed train named “Sampark Kranthi Express”
Lalu Prasad Yadav (2004-2009)
Unlike other Railway Ministers, lalu Prasad yadav had focused on increasing revenue for railways.
He had increased cumulative profit of Indian railways.
Reforms of Lalu Prasad Yadav :
- Banned plastic cups for serving tea in trains and introduced earthen cups
- Outsourced the some services like parcel, advertising and catering through public private partnership
- Introduced double stalked container with increase in carrying capacity and decrease operating expenses.
- To check crimes in Railways, he formed a patrolling force which was a joint venture of Railway protection force (RPF) and Govt Railway police (GRP).
Dinesh Trivedi (2011-2012)
Unlike other ministers, Trivedi has raised his voice in instituting a rail regulator to fix all rail fares. Trivedi urged for the modernization of railways.
He went against his party when he presented railway budget with fare hike of 2 to 30 paisa per kilometer for safety along with network expansion and modernization. It lead him to lose his ministry of Railway.
Mallikarjun Kharge (2013 – 2014)
Mallikarjun Kharge was Railways minister in 2013 just before lokh sabha elections.
There were no very important reforms by kharge but he tried to improve customer services. He proposed a premium pricing for special trains where customer can get confirmed ticket. That is a customer can pay premium amount and can get a ticket in trains like Rajdhani Express.
Suresh Prabhu (2014 – till date)
With just starting the reforms in India by NDA Government, Suresh Prabhu has cleared pictured the vision to make Indian railways more profitable and competing world class transportation.
Some notable initiatives
- Wi – Fi facility in Railway stations
- Green toilets in trains
- 100 % FDI (foreign direct investment)
- Started 24/7 real time grievance system in twitter
- Dedicated freight corridor
- High speed trainsbetween Mumbai and Ahmedabad 250 – 350 km/h with running speed.
Although every minister had vision for improving railways to international standards only few of them was able to meet them.
Railways, Second largest transportation in India and world’s largest employer railways need more intelligent and intuitive minister to drive Railways.
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