Highlighting the achievements of the Indian Railway in last one year, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that the government is working for all round development of the sector.
“The government is working on investment plans for the railways. We are also getting positive response for international cooperation,” the minister said at a press conference. “The Railway is working out International Cooperation plan with Czech Republic, China, Canada, Republic of Korea, USA and French governments on various projects. The Korea government would be enhancing high speed rails, rolling stocks and technologies. The Canada government would work for information sharing and best practice. For freight management, better fuel efficiency, behavioral safety and disaster preparedness, the US Railway is cooperating with us.”
Prabhu emphasised on strengthening the people-oriented services and making the railways commercially viable. “The Railways provides affordable travel to people. Without compromising the service, the Railways would be made commercially viable,” he said.
In its bid to provide quality food to passengers, e-catering services has been started on 260 routes and the target is to add 250 more trains in three months. Similarly, mechanised laundering system, better aesthetic coaches, and on board better house-keeping is also being focused. ‘The ministry plans to have e-concierge services as end-to-end solution for passengers,” Prabhu said.
May 26 onwards, railways launched a fortnight long consumer connect programme – Railyatri Upbhokta Pakhwada, whereby various projects were undertaken to improve passenger amenities.
As part of the programme, senior railway officials interacted directly with the passengers to address their problems. Moreover, grievances are also addressed through WhatsApp and social networking.
“Around Projects worth over Rs. 10,000 crore were introduced as part of Railyatri Upbhokta Pakhwada, which significantly improved freight and passenger services. Some of these have been completed while others are in the process of completion.” Prabhu said.
In the first phase, 10 selected stations would be developed as model stations with improved passenger amenities. ‘Senior officials are inspecting around 7,000 big and small stations. Other projects are also being monitored round the clock to speed up the implementation process,” Prabhu added.
Moreover, in order to ease passenger traffic, number of coaches in around 250 trains would be increased from 24 to 26 by end of July. ‘An investment plan of Rs 8.5 lakh crore is being worked out in next five years and work orders have already been issued worth Rs 96,000 crore,” Prabhu added.
Talking about the redevelopment of stations through e-bidding system, the Railway Minister said that 10 stations have already been handed over to Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC). The utilisation plan for $11,00 million from World bank for Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor is also being worked out. The Coal connectivity-empowering through Power is being worked out.
The Railways would also set-up a regulator for freight and passenger tariff. There is also a proposal for e-booking of wagons.
The Railways is also focusing on cleanliness. ‘The Railways has launched the Swatch Bharat Mission in a big way and it has added around 9,000 bio toilets’, Prabhu added.