Railway Regulatory Authority of India

An independent Railway Regulatory Authority of India was recommended by the Bibek Debroy Committee for Mobilization of Resources for Major Railway Projects and Restructuring of Railway Ministry and Railway Board.

This committee observed that in Indian Railways, the same organization deals with three prime functions viz. policy making, the regulatory function and operations. Making a case for shifting the regulatory power from government (Railway Ministry) to an independent statutory body with quasi-judicial powers, the committee recommended that such body will be able to provide a level-playing field to private players who have been reluctant to enter the railway sector.

Proposed Key Features

  • According to the committee, the Rail Regulatory Authority of India would be a quasi-judicial body, independent of Railway Ministry and will have its own separate budget
  • It should have powers for economic regulation, including, wherever necessary, tariff regulation, safety regulation and fair access regulation
  • It should have access to railway infrastructure for private operators, service standard regulation, licensing and enhancing competition and setting technical standards.
  • The Commissioner of Railway Safety should be integrated with or merged into the RRAI.
  • It should be given task of overseeing rules and norms that ensure the fair competition for Special Purpose Vehicles that have been created through railway connectivity projects.
  • Currently, the RDSO (Research, Design and Standards Organization) is playing dual role – as a technical advisor to the Railway Board and as a standard setting organization. The committee recommended that the job of setting the standards to be shifted to RRAI.
  • The committee further recommended that the RRI should be able to do Public Service Costing exercise, independent of railways. Via this exercise, the RRAI would determine the costs incurred by Indian Railways and other service operators in providing social services such as construction, operation and maintenance of lines in specified locations and in providing specified rail services on select branch lines.
  • The issues like consumer complaints, including class action complaints will not be addressed by RRAI.
  • Adjudicate on disputes among licensees/private partners and the Ministry, subject to review in appeal.

The Bibek Debroy committee has thus gone much farther than the Rail Tariff Committee as suggested earlier. The mandate of the proposed Rail Tariff Committee is to be strictly limited to the tariff-related matters and as a less powerful body. In contrast, the RRAI is a super-authority, which appears to be above ministry in some cases.

Current Status

The RRAI is in proposed state.

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