Parliamentary Panel Raises Concern Over Slow Pace Of Vande Bharat Trains Production And Less Fund Utilisation


A parliamentary panel has raised concern over slow pace of roll out of Vande Bharat trains and the trend of less utilisation of allocated funds during the past three financial years.

Taking note of how only eight Vande Bharat trains had been manufactured till 17 February against the target of 35 in 2022-23 , the Standing Committee on Railways has asked the Ministry to “intensify” efforts for production of these trains to “meet aspirations” of people.

The Standing Committee has also observed that going by the pace of production of Vande Bharat trains, the railways may find it “difficult to achieve their set target”.

It also referred to the budget announcement of 2022-23 of running about 400 such trains. The railways has informed the panel that the manufacturing of 400 trains has been planned in a phased manner.

While 120 rakes will be manufactured at Marathwara Rail Coach Factory (MRCF) at Latur, 80 rakes will be built at ICF, Chennai. The remaining 100 each will be manufactured at Rail Coach Navinikarn Karkhana (RCNK) in Sonipat and Modern Coach Factory at Raebareli.

The committee has recommended that the railways should extend the technological support to other production units to enable them to manufacture the rakes and coaches of Vande Bharat trains.

While appreciating the highest ever budgetary allocation for railways at Rs 2.6 lakh crore for the 2023-24 financial year, the parliamentary panel has also flagged how the national transporter has not been able to utilise the allocated fund since 2019-20.

For example, against the revised estimate (RE) of Rs 1.56 lakh crore for capital expenditure, the railways could spend Rs 1.48 lakh crore.

Similarly, in 2020-21, the actual spending was Rs 1.55 lakh crore against RE of Rs 1.55 lakh crore and during the last financial year (2021-22), the total expenditure stood at Rs 1.9 lakh crore whereas the RE was Rs 2.15 lakh crore.

“The Committee trusts that the railways should be able to honour the aspirations of the government and intensify their efforts for optimally utilising the proposed allocation of Rs 2,60,200 crore (Budget Estimate) in the FY 2023-24,” the panel said in its report.

The panel has also recommended the ministry for efficient utilisation of the higher allocation from budgetary support without increasing its repayment liabilities to help it become financially sustainable.

It said this will help railways’ reliance on the borrowing component of extra budgetary support (EBR) is gradually put to a halt.