Getting into the groove, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Tuesday got a detailed presentation of the functioning and various aspects of the national transporter including its financial health.

“It was the first Railway Board meeting after the new Minister took charge. So a detailed presentation was made to him about the functioning of various directorates by the respective Members,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Mr. Bansal, who took charge on Monday, was briefed on areas including traffic projection, financial position, future requirement of coaches and locomotives and electrification of identified routes.

The Minister took a keen interest in the proposed plan to improve passenger amenities, punctuality, safety and security in train operations, the official said.

The railways, which has not revised passenger fares in general class for nine years, is passing through a severe financial crisis with many of its ongoing projects facing curtailment of funds.

Mr. Bansal hinted about a possible passenger fare hike on Monday. Mounting losses in passenger services are also adding to the woes of the public transporter. Railways registered losses of about Rs. 24,000 crore in 2011-12 in the passenger segment.

“The Minister was made aware of the fund constraints and the reasons for the downslide in revenue generation,” the official said.

The railways freight target was reduced by 23 million tonnes (MT) to 970 MT due to fall in loading in 2011-12. The loading target is 1025 MT in the current fiscal.

Mr. Bansal wanted to know about the steps being taken to fill up vacancies in the railways. Currently there are about 2.1 lakh vacancies including 80,000 in safety-related posts.

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