Railways improving but long way to go: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu

Railways is improving but it just a beginning and there is a “long way to go”, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Tuesday as he talked about various initiatives, including launch of bullet trains and tapping solar energy, as part of modernising the national transporter.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu

Replying to a debate on Supplementary Demands for Excess Grants (Railways) in the Lok Sabha, he mentioned a number of steps taken by the NDA government to improve the functioning of railways, which include e-catering for 2000 trains, cleanliness drives and checking of ticketless travel.

He also talked about the problem of train delays and efforts to ensure punctuality.

According to Prabhu, as many as 79 items announced in the last Railway Budget in February have already been implemented.

Railways is improving but it just a beginning and there is a “long way to go”, the Minister said as he responded to issues and concerns raised by members in the House which was boycotted by Congress and nine other parties.

Talking about the ambitious bullet train project that is estimated to cost over Rs 1 lakh crore, he said various options are being looked at while asserting that it will not be implemented at the cost of services to common man.

“It (proposed bullet trains) will not at the expenses of services to common man…,” he said in an apparent response to criticism from some quarters that the government is planning bullet trains while not doing much to help the common people.

“We are trying to find the viability of bullet train project,” Prabhu said.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency has already submitted the final feasibility study report of the proposed high-speed rail system on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, which is expected to reduce the travel time on the 505-kilometre long corridor to two hours from the existing more than seven hours.

He said efforts were also underway to tap solar energy for the railways which will help reduce dependence on diesel and electricity.

The Railways would be working with states for setting up joint ventures to implement more number of projects apart from another proposal to tap solar energy for the railways, he said.