The fact that the Prime Minister called a meeting of the Ministers of State for Railways, members of the Railway Board and the General Managers of all the Railway Zones to take a stock of the health of the Indian Railway before appointing the next Railway Minister is a welcome step. It is expected that the meeting would help him in having a better understanding of the problems plaguing Indian Railway and ensure that the Railways get back on its track at the earliest. The Prime Minister must not hesitate even in keeping the Railway portfolio with him for a while if that is required to improve its condition. It’s but natural that Mamata Banerjee would like somebody from her party to be named as the next Railway Minister, but it is important for the future of Railways that the portfolio is kept away from leaders who use the ministry as a tool to serve their political interests. It would be better if the Ministry is taken over by a Congressman because for a very long time the ministry has been in the hands of alliance partners and not the party which leads the government. Apart from Nitish Kumar, all former Railway Ministers including Ramvilas Paswan, Lalu Prasad and Mamata Banerjee used the ministry as a tool to strengthen their political base in their respective home states. Mamata as Railway Minister functioned in an unprecedented manner to impress her electorate in West Bengal with an eye on Assembly elections.

Now, when Mamata has been successful in attaining what she aspired for, it is high time that the Central government gives impetus on improving the health of the Railway Ministry. Its improvement is imminent not just because it is not being run properly and the security structure has gone hay wire, but also because the financial health of the public sector behemoth is in a bad shape. All the proposed plans and projects, which were conceived to transform the Railways to match international benchmarks, have failed to move ahead. The way Railways has been derailed it becomes imperative that its economy is managed on the lines of other PSUs. The network of Railway is so big that it must be kept insulated from petty party politics. It is time that the Indian Railway is perceived as a public sector unit in true spirit and Railway Zones as its subsidiaries. It is important to stop Railways from being used as a political tool because things have come to a pass from where if the functioning of Indian Railway is not overhauled at the earliest, it would chug down to a destination from where it would be difficult to bring it back on track.