A day before presenting his maiden budget in Parliament, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said on Monday that there was a demand for more trains. But he did not disclose whether he would concede it, as his predecessors did.
“The government is for the people. You will have to see the budget from that point of view…,” he said at an informal chat with reporters, when asked whether the budget would be people-friendly.
Mr. Bansal clarified that the UPA government, not the Congress, would present the budget, as reporters pointed to the fact that a Congress Minister was going to present the Railway budget after 16 years.
At a function later, Mr. Bansal disclosed that he was overwhelmed by demands for more trains from MPs as well as the public. He had resolved to make the Railways the most preferred mode of transport.
The Railways signed a memorandum of understanding with BHEL for setting up a factory at Bhilwara in Rajasthan to turn out Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) trains.
Apart from Mr. Bansal, Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Praful Patel was present on the occasion.
BHEL will set up the factory and supply the Railways with 400 units a year.
The Rajasthan government has promised to allot land free of cost for the project, which has the potential to industrialise the region.
Mr. Bansal said MPs were demanding more intercity services and the Railways were gearing up to meet the growing demand.
At present, the Railways had just 160 units, but over the next 10 years the demand would go up to 9,000 units, of which the BHEL factory was expected to account for 5,000.
One more unit was being planned in West Bengal to bridge the shortfall, the Minister said.
The quality of MEMU trains would be improved, and the new ones would be more passenger-friendly, featuring, for instance, toilets.