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Rail Development Authority (Relevant for GS Prelims and GS Mains Paper III)

What is the objective behind forming Rail Development Authority?
The objective underlying RDA is to get expert advice for informed decisions on:
(i) Pricing of services commensurate with costs.
(ii) Suggest measures for enhancement of Non Fare Revenue.
(iii) Protection of consumer interests, by ensuring quality of service and cost optimization.
(iv) Promoting competition, efficiency and economy.
(v) Encouraging market development and participation of stakeholders in the rail sector and for ensuring a fair deal to the stakeholders and customers.
(vi) Creating positive environment for investment.
(vii) Benchmarking of service standards against international norms and specify and enforce standards with respect to the quality, continuity and reliability of services provided by them.
(viii) Providing framework for non-discriminatory open access to the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) infrastructure and others in future.
(ix) Suggesting measures to absorb new technologies for achieving desired efficiency and performance standards.
(x) Suggesting measures for human resource development to achieve any of its stated objectives.

Background
The Union Cabinet approved setting up the rail regulator responsible for recommending passenger fares, setting performance standards for rail operations and creating a level playing policy for private sector participation.

Regulator’s structure
Government has approved formation of a Rail Development Authority (RDA) comprising Chairman and three Members.

The regulator will, however, not involve itself in policy making of the Indian Railways, operations and maintenance of the rail system, financial management, setting technical standards and compliance of safety standards, the resolution said.

It clarified that the regulator would only make recommendations on tariff and not impose a tariff on the Indian Railways.

Primary reason behind formation of regulator
The Authority’s primary functions will be to recommend tariff “commensurate with costs.” This will facilitate in fixing fair tariffs for various services provided by railways.

How were fares fixed earlier?
Central government has been fixing the fares mostly based on political considerations in the past.

(Adapted from The PIB)



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