Railway Minister Bansal stresses on safety, reinforcement of infrastructure
Issues ranging from railway safety to development of infrastructure and hastening of the pending projects would be prime factors for revamping the country's largest network of public transport, said Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament that begins from today.
Interacting with media for the first time after taking over as Railways Minister, Bansal spelt out the various plans on anvil and also highlighted the priority assigned to each of the plans projects.
He disclosed that he had prepared a blueprint on reforms and this was submitted to the Prime Minister during a cabinet meeting on October 31.
The blueprint consists of some big-ticket rail projects and reforms to be taken up in the coming days to boost the finances of the Railways.
"We have to give the main priority to safety here. So safety shall remain as one of the primary areas of our concern. And then there is the issue of the modernisation of the entire railway system and the development of infrastructure will receive impetus from us. I shall mention the thrust areas that we have in our plan. First, augmentation of capacity to call higher roles by induction of high capacity electric and diesel locomotives, and high capacity wagons through joint ventures and PPP (public-private partnership) initiatives," said Bansal.
He also stated that private investments in important connectivity projects of the railways would be brought in to bring in speedier results.
"Secondly, encouraging private investment in rail connectivity projects particularly that go into nation building like connectivity to ports, mines, powerhouses, etc. Thirdly, induction of modern technologies to prevent accidents, particularly those caused due to collisions. Then there is timely completion of the dedicated trade corridor that would unshackle the existing network for safer and faster trade operations," added Bansal.
The minister highlighted that no pending projects would be cancelled in this process and they all would be completed in a bid to know the status of the resources within the system.
"What has happened in the recent past is a lot of growth has taken place and many projects are underway. There has been a thin spreading due to unavailability of other options, and a lot of projects are lying pending. It is time for us to revisit the entire issue. No project would be cancelled. But we have to give importance as to how much work has been done so far and how much more money is needed to complete them. We have to see as to how much sources we have with us ad then we have to decide as to which projects can be completed first. So we must advance towards those projects while making them primary interests on this basis," said Bansal.
He also added that a total of 16 new trains would be running in the coming days that had been lying pending ever since they were announced in the last railway budget.
The cash-strapped railways, is passing through a critical phase with many of its ongoing projects facing fund curtailment.
Besides there are several ongoing rail expansion projects, steps to meet freight target, preventing accidents, improving passenger amenities among others are also being short-listed in the action plan.