NATIONAL

RailTel to open 200 Internet cafes

The Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar, inaugurating the Bangalore-Secunderabad-Chennai Optical Fibre Cable network in Bangalore on Thursday. The managing director of Railtel, A.K. Chopra (right), looks on.

The Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar, inaugurating the Bangalore-Secunderabad-Chennai Optical Fibre Cable network in Bangalore on Thursday. The managing director of Railtel, A.K. Chopra (right), looks on.  

BANGALORE JUNE 26. The Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar, on Thursday announced that RailTel Corporation of India Ltd. proposed to open at least 200 Internet cafes in major railway stations shortly.

The cafes would be opened after getting the feedback at the cafe at the New Delhi Railway Station, which he would open on Friday. Apart from offering Internet surfing facility at railway stations, RailTel also proposed to offer Internet facility in trains before the end of this financial year, he said.

Mr. Kumar was commissioning the 1,952-km.-long optical fibre cable (OFC) network on the Bangalore-Secunderabad-Chennai line through videoconferencing, along with the Union Ministers of State for Railways, Bandaru Dattatreya at Secunderabad, and A.K. Murthy at Chennai.

Mr. Kumar said the RailTel had commissioned more than 9,000 km. of OFC in the past one year, taking the length of OFC to 20,564 km. The OFC would help provide efficient and safe travel to commuters, besides earning revenue.

Passenger amenities such as computerised reservation facility at all stations along the OFC network and a precise and uniform "on-line train information system" through telephone, electronic display, Internet and public address system could be provided through the OFC network, Mr. Kumar said.

RailTel would offer additional bandwidth available on its OFC network for commercial exploitation as well as providing connectivity to areas near the railway stations, he said. The network would be a boon to places adjacent to railway stations in remote areas, as RailTel would offer telephone facility to villages or towns within 10 km. of the station. Continuous cellular phone coverage while travelling in trains and cheap and affordable national and international call and videoconference facility could be offered, he said.

To a question from a pressperson in Secunderabad, Mr. Kumar said RailTel proposed to lay OFC along 40,000 route km. out of the total 63,000 route km. this financial year. About Rs. 1,200 crore had been earmarked for the project, he said.

To another question from Bangalore on the pathetic condition of rolling stock with the railways, the Minister said new coaches, wagons and rakes were being introduced in a phased manner.

About the delay in gauge conversion between Hassan and Mangalore on the Bangalore-Mangalore line, Mr. Kumar said it would be completed within two years.

The 40-km. stretch between Kankanadi in Mangalore and Kabaka in Puttur would be thrown open shortly, he said. About the lack of safety on the Konkan Railway, the Minister defended the Konkan Railway Corporation and appreciated it for introducing several innovative security gadgets.

The Electronics Corporation of India Ltd., (ECIL) has implemented the OFC network for RailTel.

In a press release, the ECIL said the next generation SDH 622 Mbps OFC network had been used in the network and the networks in New Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan would go live shortly.

The Southern Region of RailTel has so far earned Rs. 7 crores by way of leasing the bandwidth to telephone and Internet service providers.

Our Chennai Special Correspondent writes:

Participating in the function from Chennai, Mr. A.K. Moorthy said the inauguration of the OFC network was yet another instance of the department's efforts to provide new facilities to people by adopting state-of-the-art technologies. He unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion. The Finance Commissioner, Vijayalakshmi Viswanathan, and the General Manager of the Southern Railway, V. Anand, were among those present on the occasion.Our Hyderabad Staff Reporter writes:

Mr. B. Dattatreya launched the project by unveiling a plaque in the SCR headquarters here. Speaking on the occasion Mr. Dattatreya said the routes commissioned today have maximum potential for providing cyber cafes at the stations, especially the Chennai-Vijayawada-Secunderabad route. This has a great potential for generation of self-employment in the region.

A total of 2,850 km of OFC work was executed on SCR in eight sections. The sections are Secunderabad-Wadi-Dharmavaram (567 km), Secunderabad-Guntur-Vijayawada (320 km), Vijayawada-Gudur (293 km), Vijayawada-Visakhapatnam (350 km), Guntakal-Renigunta (308 km), Guntakal-Hubli (246 km), Gudur-Renigunta-Tirupati (94 km), Pune-Miraj-Vasco 672 km).

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