Saturday, January 31, 2009

One Asset the Government of India Should Buy if the US Government Sells it Off

There is a considerable amount of anti rail feeling in this country with even a magazine that is for low tech and good environmental policies critiqueing rail travel: http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2008/12/train-travel.html Further, the $ 1 billion stimulus package for the US government owned rail system, Amtrak www.amtrak.com has attracted a lot of criticism from people who think that the US government needs to sell Amtrak off. Apparently, Amtrak has not made a profit in over 40 years. As far as freght trainsa re concerned, too, the Americans seem bad at managing them - most of the rail freight companies have been bought up by Canadian businesses and the Canadians seem to have made them quite profitable, thank you, where the Americans simply couldn't figure out how to make money from them.

I do think, here, that of the US Government decides to sell Amtrak off, the Indian Railways should seriously consider buying them. Coal India Ltd has been buying up coal mines in this country and that is an Indian government owned business. And Indian Railways know how to run and manage a rail business - they move more people than any other system of transportation anywhere else in the world, they employ more people than any single employer anywhere on earth and they make good profits even in bad years in India. If there is anyone who could make Amtrak profitable, it is them. This is not something that I am joking about - as a blog that looks at showing fossil fuel the fist, I do think that the railways are a superb way of reducing pollution and what the American government cannot manage could be run mroe profitably by those with an established record in this area. I hope this happens - it would be good for Amtrak, for the Indian Railways and for a world that is being polluted increasingly day by day.

1 comment:

Mohanakrishnan B said...

Mehul
Great article.It would be a feather in the cap for Indian Railways if they do it.It would be a win-win situation.Not only can they turn Amtrak around,they can also make use of the technology available with Amtrak to improve services in India.After all the first diesel locomotive in India was an ALCO which is still in service in many variants.If Indian Railways ever came out with a public issue they would have more money than they would know what to do with.Its a credit to them that they have turned around and are showing huge profits without selling the family cutlery unlike some of the other PSU`s.I think if Lalu Prasad Yadav gets another term as Railway Minister you might just get to see this.