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Improved cleanliness, online facilities priority: Sadananda Gowda

Posted on Jul 08 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, July 8 : Enhanced cleanliness at stations, battery operated carts between platforms, and online facilities on board were among the passenger amenities Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda promised in his 2014-15 budget Tuesday.

"There will be substantial increase in budget allocation for cleanliness in the current year, which is a 40 percent increase over the previous year," the minister said presenting his maiden budget.

"The railways proposes to outsource cleaning activities at 50 major stations to professional agencies and to set up a separate housekeeping wing to have focused attention and exclusive responsibility of maintaining cleanliness and sanitation at stations."

He said use of CCTVs at stations will be extended to monitor cleanliness activities. A system of periodic third-party inspections will be introduced.

A corpus fund for upkeep of stations will be set up.

The Indian Railways propose to extend service of battery-operated carts to facilitate differently-abled and senior citizens to reach any platform comfortably at all major stations.

The Railways also envisages to provide foot over bridges, escalators and lifts at all major stations including through public-private partnership (PPP) route.

"Indian Railways would make earnest attempt this year to provide sufficient water supply, platform shelters and toilets at the stations," he said.

He said individuals, non-government organisations, trusts, charitable institutions and corporates could be sought to provide passenger amenities at stations.

In order to improve the quality and hygiene of on-board catering services and to provide variety, the railways proposes to introduce pre-cooked (ready-to-eat) meals of reputed brands in a phased manner. To bring perceptible improvement in the catering services, the minister proposed to introduce quality assurance mechanism through third party audit by NABCB certified agencies.

The minister said if the service is not upto the standards set in terms of hygiene and taste, "severe action would be initiated against the vendors including cancellation of the contract."

The railways also proposes to set up food courts at major stations to provide the option of ordering regional cuisine while onboard, through emails, SMS and smart phones.

A pilot project will be started shortly between New Delhi-Amritsar and New Delhi-Jammu Tawi sections.

Harping on passengers safety measures, he said, it is estimated that over Rs.40,000 crore would be needed to be invested in track renewals, elimination of unmanned level crossing and construction of road-under-bridges and road-over-bridges.

The railways plans to use modern Vehicle Borne Ultrasonic Flaw Detection System to detect rail and weld fractures. In addition, the Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection System (UBRD) will also be tried at two locations as a pilot project.

In order to improve the safety of travelling passengers, he proposes to bring in technology for automatic closing of doors before start of train, both in main line and in sub-urban coaches. A pilot project for limited number of trains will be taken up.

He said to strengthen security in trains and at stations 17,000 RPF constables have been recruited and shall be shortly available for deployment. He said, the Indian Railways also proposes to recruit 4,000 women RPF constables. With the induction of women RPF constables, coaches for ladies will be escorted. Additional care will be taken for ladies travelling alone in all classes.

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