Railways Unable To Renew, Replace ‘Over-aged Assets’ Due To Poor Financial Health: CAG


New Delhi: The Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out that the railways failed to renew and replace ‘over-aged assets’ due to weak financial health.

Asking railways to look into the innovative ways for revenue generation and closely monitor the expenditure, the CAG suggested the transporter revisit the passenger and other coaching tariffs so as to recover the cost of operations in a phased manner.

It said the practice of issuing free and concessional tickets should be scaled down.

In its report on ‘Railways Finances 2016-17’ tabled in Parliament, the CAG said, “Non-availability of sufficient funds in Depreciation Reserve Fund to replace the over aged assets is indicative of weak financial health of Indian Railways.”

It added, “Huge backlog of renewal and replacement of over aged assets in railway system, which needs to be addressed for safe running of trains.”

In another report on ‘Maintenance of track on heavy traffic sections’, the auditor found lapses in maintenance plans, inspection by officials and usage of high-end machines to detect track defects.

“Audit noticed shortfalls and deficiencies in inspections carried put at different levels...testing of rails using Ultrasonic Flaw Detection machines was not carried out as per the prescribed norms,” it said.

It was revealed that deep screening of ballast which is required to restore the resilience and elasticity of the ballast bed and for improving running quality of track had significant backlog and in some sections it was overdue for up to 22 years.

Patrol men were not equipped with any communication equipment to report any failure, fracture or damage immediately from the sections where they have been observed.

There was shortage of staff in different safety categories responsible for track maintenance ranging from nine to 22% in different railway zones.

“The situation was made worse by diverting available track maintainers to works other than track maintenance... more track maintainers have been posted to bigger cities than remote locations though the requirements for the whole section may be uniform,” it said.

There was a shortage of about 50% blocks against the block demanded by engineering department for maintenance work.

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