Reverse the railways’ descent into doom

Reverse the railways’ descent into doom

Indian Railways (IR) needs a speedy change of track to address faltering(कमी/हीनता) demand in crucial(महत्वपूर्ण/निर्णायक) segments(खंड) and falling revenues(आय/राजस्व). Raghu Dayal points out, in a recent paper in Railway Gazette International, that domestic air travel is poised to overtake upper-class rail journeys as early as 2020 while rail freight(भाड़ाबोझ) faces ever greater competition from road transport. IR must rethink(फिर से सोचना) the policy of huge(विशाल) cross-subsidies. The annual growth in rail passenger-km and net tonne-km has been in the low decimal points for the last five years. Worse, operating costs are now rising faster than gross(कुल/सकल) revenues.

Upper-class rail travel constituted(गठित) a mere 1.85% of passenger journeys in 2016-17, but because of higher average fares, the segment contributed almost a third of passenger earnings(कमाई). Such a fare policy distorts(विकृत/रूप बिगाड़ना) demand. Air traffic is growing by almost a fifth annually while rail passenger traffic is virtually(वास्तव में/दर असल) flat. Over the past five years, AC rail fares have risen by over 60% while the largest domestic airline has reportedly reduced its average ticket prices by 1% annually. Inflexibility(दृढ़ता/अनम्यता) in fares and freight rates is clearly affecting rail traffic. Besides, when it comes to freight, the Railways continue to hugely and overtly rely on hauling cheap dirty commodities(माल) like coal. Its share in fast moving consumer goods is barely 2%. If IR were to cut costs and secure more traffic with vision, it could double its contribution to 2% of GDP. The way ahead is to hive off suburban(उपनगरीय) rail travel to joint ventures formed with the relevant(प्रासंगिक/उचित) municipalities/state governments. And greater inroads in the freight market calls for a commercial, rather than bureaucratic organisational structure. Organisational change, to revamp (सुधार)culture, is of paramount(सर्व-श्रेष्ठआला दर्जे का) importance.

 

 

Important vocabulary

1.freight(बोझ/भाड़ा)
Synonyms: carriage, consignment, merchandise, payload, shipment
Antonyms: benefit

2.Inflexibility(दृढ़ता/अनम्यता)
Synonyms: intransigence, obstinacy, bullheadedness, contumacy, doggedness

3.faltering(कमी/हीनता)
Synonyms: flounder, hesitate, reel, waver, wobble
Antonyms: calm, hold, remain, stabilize, stay

4.relevant(प्रासंगिक/उचित)
Synonyms: admissible, applicable, compatible, consistent, germane
Antonyms: improper, inapplicable, inappropriate, incompatible, insignificant

5.paramount(सर्व-श्रेष्ठआला दर्जे का)
Synonyms: outstanding, predominant, preeminent, ascendant, capital
Antonyms: inferior, unimportant, last, least, less

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