Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has said that there is a proposal to spend about 10 thousand crore rupees for renewal of tracks and adoption of latest technology to reduce the accident rate to zero level. He also said that the Railways will install train protection warning system and eliminate all unmanned level crossings across the country by using one lakh crore rupees ‘Railways Suraksha Kosh’.
He was replying to a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on working of Ministry of Railways alongwith Appropriation Railways Bills, 2017. The minister said the accident rates have come down but he is not happy as the target is to achieve the zero level.
Mr. Prabhu in over one hour long speech talked about a slew of initiatives planned for safety and passenger amenities. He said the government is trying to maximise revenues from fares as well as non-fare methods besides reducing the cost of operations in order to improve the profitabilty of railways.
He said the government plans to save 41,000 crore rupees in energy bill in the next 10 years. It is targeting generation of 1000 Mega Watt of solar power and 200 Mega Watt of wind power besides energy mix, use of LED bulbs, waste to energy plant.
Mr Pabhu said in the Rajya Sabha that investment in railway has gone down over a period of time which this government is trying to reverse. Responding to members’ demand for more funds for projects related to their states, he said, States’ allocation in this year’s budget is much more than what it had been during UPA rule.
He said, the existing rail projects will be completed on time. Later the house passed and returned the two bills with a voice vote.
Earlier, participating in the debate, Chhaya Verma of the Congress said that accidents take place due to unmanned railway crossings. She also said that prime property in possession of railways lying unutilised and it is not being returned to state governments for development projects.
Shwait Mallik of the BJP said he welcomed the merger of railway budget with the general budget, saying the move will benefit the railways. He praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and railway minister Suresh Prabhu for the proposal to introduced high speed bullet train. Vandana Chavan of the NCP warned against theft and robberies in railways.