Mumbai

Station modernisation, better facilities top rail budget promises

Mumbai: While details of project-specific funding are yet to come in, what was clear on Wednesday is the Railway Budget for 2017-18 focusses on the four major areas of passenger safety, capital and development work, cleanliness and financial accounting reforms, senior officials with Central and Western Railway said. Importantly, 3,500 km of railway lines will be commissioned in the coming financial year, significantly more than the 2800 km in 2016-17.

For passenger safety, a Rail Sanraksha Kosh has been created with a corpus of one lakh crore for a period of five years. A new scheme called ‘Clean My Coach’ has been announced, under which a passenger can message details to a dedicated number and receive immediate attention from the hospitality staff.

To make long-distance journeys more convenient, the ‘Coach Mitra’ — a railway employee designated as such — will attend all calls and complaints on passenger issues including water, toilets and dirty linen with complete solutions. The Coach Mitra will be responsible for a specified number of coaches for the entire trip. By 2019, all coaches of long distance trains will be fitted with bio-toilets, work on which has begun.

Unmanned railway level crossings will be eliminated by 2020. “We will attain zero unmanned level crossing gates by March,” D.K. Sharma, general manger, CR, said. The WR will attain this target within a month, its officials said.

To ease movement within stations in the Mumbai suburban rail network, at least 25 stations will be redeveloped to accommodate facilities like escalators and elevators. These facilities are to be extended to 500 stations across India, officials said. In Mumbai, stations to be redeveloped include Mumbai Central, Bandra Terminus, Borivali, Dadar, LTT and Kalyan. Solid waste collected at railway stations will be recycled and disposed of.

The rail budget has increased allocation for solar power facilities to curtail expenditure on electricity, and plans are for powering close to 7,000 stations through 1,000 MW of solar power, with target generation being 20,000 MW. To promote cashless transactions, service charge levied by IRCTC for online transactions have been withdrawn.

In past years, more than 47% of rail accidents were due to derailment, and 3,400 people lose their lives in track-related mishaps on average every year. “The Railways should think of constructing walls so that passengers cannot cross tracks. Instead of spending so much on rail safety, why don’t authorities start work on concrete steps to curb trespassing,” Rajiv Singhal, member, Divisional Railway Users’ Consultative Committee, said.


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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 11:58:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/Station-modernisation-better-facilities-top-rail-budget-promises/article17129143.ece

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