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Bibek Debroy Panel Report on Railway Reforms
Apr 06, 2015

To steer restructuring of the Railway Board, Indian Raiways constituted a committee in September 2014 under Bibek Debroy, economist and professor, Centre for Policy Research. The committee submitted its report and recommended steps to mobilise resources for major projects and help set up a Rail Tariff Authority. The panel headed by Bibek Debroy set up to suggest ways to restructure railways has recommended drastic reforms for efficient railways functioning.

Key Recommendations

 

  • The panel said the core function of Indian Railways should be the business of running trains. 

  • It also suggests pruning of group C and D staff as it found a shortage of personnel in the core, skilled operations of running trains.

  • The committee suggested setting up of a government Special Purpose Vehicle-SPV (with a possibility of disinvesting in the future) to own railway infrastructure, and delink it from the railways.

  • It suggested an Indian Railway Manufacturing Company to replace all existing production units and another holding company for railway stations.

  • It also suggested setting up a regulator with statutory backing and independent of the railway ministry as well as the railway board for fixing tariff, determining cost of service, managing track access, setting technical standards among other things, after private players were allowed to run freight and passenger trains. It could be called the Railway Regulator Authority of India (RRAI).

  • Rail ministry should only determine policy and not indulge in day-to-day operations of the railways. 

  • The panel favoured detaching Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation from railways.

  • The ministry should set policy for open access and the framework for the Railway Infrastructure Company, determine the policy for raising resources for social cost obligations, extending the railway network and offering on-budget and targeted subsidies to poor passengers who need them.

  • The panel asked the Indian Railways to withdraw from welfare services such as running schools and hospitals and managing Railway Protection Force (RPF).

  • The panel urged delinking of RPF from the railways, and handing over railway schools to Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and pruning of railway medical services.

  • The panel recommends for empowering zonal railways and making them autonomous, railway board should have no role to play in their day to day functioning while policy was determined by the rail ministry.

  • The Railway Board must become like a corporate board for railways. The chairman should be like a CEO. He/she should not be the first among equals and should, therefore, have the power of final decision-making and veto (in case of divided view). 

  • The composition of the board should have member (traction and rolling stock), member (passenger and freight business), member (HR and stores), member (finance and PPP), member (infrastructure) and two outside, independent experts.

  • An individual should be appointed as chairman or member only if he/she possesses at least three years of service left. This clause should also apply to appointment as general manager.

  • Noting that the present railway board was saddled with excess manpower with a strength of 1,107 officers, the panel said it was not convinced about the need for a separate Railway Board Secretariat Services (RBSS) or the Railway Board Clerical Services (RBCS) and recommended that these be merged with the Central Secretarial Services.

  • The panel also recommends allowing private players to run passenger trains as well as freight trains, producing coaches, wagons and locomotives and switching over to commercial accounting of railway functions.


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