The railway zonal general managers' conference starts on Friday. And with a clear agenda to introduce nearly 250 trains in the upcoming rail budget, the session looks set to be a stormy one.
The conference is also likely to discuss ways to boost fast-dipping earnings, complete pending projects and a "realistic" action plan to improve the railways' report card on cleanliness, catering, punctuality and security issues.
Railway Board sources said general managers of 16 zones will meet to chalk out the blueprint for the Budget. The GMs' conference is usually held in December-end but it got delayed due to the Gujjars' agitation.
Railway minister Mamata Banerjee will chair the meeting, which is likely to focus on populist announcements - new trains, new lines and electrification projects.
"We are not going to introduce less than 250 trains this year. Last year, we had introduced 250 trains in the first phase and 32 later. It would require a lot of tinkering with the time- table and also introduction of new lines, which would be the prime agenda of the meeting," a Railway Board official said.
Also, with the West Bengal polls slated for May- June, a major chunk of these new trains would be routed to and from the state. But Railway Board members are more worried about finding a road map to boost the earnings.
A confidential report, circulated to the board members and GMs for discussion in the conference, says: "The dip in earnings is a cause of concern. Railways need to augment its financial resources so as to fund its pending projects and commission new schemes, particularly those related to on- board passenger services."
Another challenge is to minimise complaints about cleanliness onboard the trains and at the stations.
Courtesy: Mail Today