Railways to redevelop 400 stations, monetise land and air space: Suresh Prabhu
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

Customer is now at the centre of planning and implementation of railway infrastructure, said railways minister Suresh Prabhu at the launch of InfraCircle in New Delhi on Thursday evening.

Prabhu said the main focus of his ministry is to work towards the customers’ satisfaction and do everything possible to achieve this goal. “Now customer is at the centre of railway infrastructure. We said let’s make a change and let people give feedback… We are now able to provide help and services to passengers in real time,” he said.

The ministry will depend heavily on customers’ feedback to improve and upgrade its operations and delivery mechanisms to ensure passengers’ safety and satisfaction, the minister said.

InfraCircle on May 27 had reported that the national carrier would invite public comments before launching new trains in a bid to to boost passenger traffic and gauge customer preferences.

Listing out his ministry’s initiatives towards ensuring safety of the passengers, Pradhu said work is in progress to retrofit all the coaches and develop better infrastructure. Station redevelopment is also underway.

Indian Railways plans to redevelop 400 stations across the country and monetise land and air space in these stations. Prabhu also reiterated the need to decentralise the Indian Railways and involve active state participation. 

“Traditionally, railways has been highly centralised. It is not just delegation of administrative power, but active involvement by state governments is required for the railways. We want state governments to become active partners and hence have signed joint ventures with many states for the first time,” Prabhu said.

The railways ministry in March had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for formation of joint venture companies with six state governments viz. Odisha, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. The joint venture companies will be formed with equity participation of the ministry (limited to maximum 50%) and concerned state government(s).

When asked about the forthcoming Budget for 2017-18, the minister said the Budget is a “continuous exercise” and gives an opportunity to revisit issues. While refusing to talk about specific proposals, Prabhu said Budget would be a continuation of old ideas but also a reflection of how innovatively things can be done.

He said his endeavour is to synergise the different compartments of the Indian Railways and develop a unified service that would work as one and deliver the best services to its customers. “We need to get into the development mode… railways has different compartments in a rolling stock…but if each compartment thinks they have nothing to do with the train, it will be very difficult. We want to make sure that we have unified services and are are trying to ensure that the board functions as a single unit,” said Prabhu.

Congratulating InfraCircle on its launch, the minister said the InfraCircle platform will render a great service as people will get credible news and clear views on everything related to the infrastructure space and they will now find all the information related to infrastructure in one place.

“Sometimes even I look at InfraCircle and VCCircle for information on infrastructure and railways,” he said to a round of applause from the audience which included industry honchos and top bureaucrats.

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