“All single lines need to be doubled and third lines have become essential”

The Railways continues to face demands and increased expectations from people but fulfilling all of them overnight is impossible, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi said here on Tuesday.

Mr. Trivedi arrived from New Delhi by air and left Coimbatore by train to reach Kanjikode near Palakkad in Kerala for laying the stone for a coach factory.

He was accompanied by Union Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa, Chairman of Railway Board Vinay Mittal and General Manager of Southern Railway Deepak Krishan. They were received by Divisional Railway Manager, Salem, Sujatha Jayaraj, and Additional Divisional Railway Manager P. Kalimuthu.

Talking to reporters on his way back to New Delhi, Mr. Trivedi said that needs were growing and Railways had its own limitation in meeting all the demands. All of them cannot be met overnight, since it required time and money. Railway lines across the country are saturated, all single lines need to be doubled and third lines have become essential in places where only double lines exist. Impetus is being given for gauge conversion and electrification.

Indian Railways would require Rs.14 lakh crore in the next ten years to meet the growing demands and needs, and needed Rs.8 lakh crore immediately in the next 12 Five Year Plan. The ultimate objective is to make railway stations look as good as airports.

Mr. Trivedi said that a problem lay in our decision-making process. For every need, proposals are sent to the Union Cabinet and then the Planning Commission.

Citing the example of the Kanjikode coach factory project, Mr. Trivedi said, “What required four months actually took nearly four years.” He stressed the need for revisiting the decision-making process to avoid such undue delays.

Citing resource constraints, Mr. Trivedi said in the last eight to ten years fuel costs, inputs cost and the Sixth Pay Commission payout cost Indian Railways Rs.80,000 crore. Citing the recommendations of the Committee on Rail Safety headed by Former Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar, the Minister said the priority would be safety in terms of improving the signalling system, automation and modernisation. Indian Railways had the capacity to turn modern. It was the biggest workforce next to the Army and had the capacity and the ability to even contribute two per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.

Earlier, before leaving for Kanjikode, Mr. Trivedi told reporters that his Ministry had taken up the task of modernising railway stations with modern amenities across the country and Coimbatore would not be left out. On the routing of 13 pairs of trains presently skipping Coimbatore Junction, Mr. Trivedi said that all the details were being examined and a decision would soon be announced.

Struggle Committee members G.K. Nagarajan and R. Raveendran met the Minister and Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal with a detailed memorandum. Mr. Mittal said that the board was acting on the demands and promised a solution. Mr. Trivedi said that the demands are being closely followed for further action by Mr. Muniyappa.