All southern states except Tamil Nadu had signed the agreement with Railways: Suresh Prabhu

CHENNAI: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has urged the Tamil Nadu government to sign an MoU for setting up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to execute projects in the state. The state will be able to prioritise the projects to be taken up if the agreement is signed.

Speaking at the inauguration of 10 railway projects through video conferencing on Saturday, Prabhu said that all southern states except Tamil Nadu had signed the agreement. “If Tamil Nadu also can join, we can prioritise the projects that should be taken up immediately and in periodical way. Earlier, Delhi alone was deciding which project should be developed, however after scrapping of the Planning Commission and formation of NITI Aayog, now all the states have the role to play alongwith the Centre for developments”, he said.

He urged the ministers and legislators present at the function to tell the state government to sign the SPV. “If Tamil Nadu signs the agreement, Railways can implement more projects.” Prabhu’s remarks followed requests by MPs and MLAs, who spoke before the minister, to improve amenities and complete infrastructure work pending in the state. Suresh Prabhu stated that he will personally monitor the projects at regular intervals once the agreement is signed by TN.

AIADMK’s Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan said that he could present the demands pertaining to railways put forward by former chief minister J Jayalalithaa once again when the Parliament session begins. Similarly, the party’s MP A Navaneethakrishnan also suggested railway projects that need attention from the ministry.

This is the second time the union minister is urging the state government to sign the MoU. He made the request while inaugurating projects through video conferencing from Chennai Central in July last year. Tamil Nadu has not signed the agreement as it has demanded changes in the existing framework of rules under which the SPV would work.

Former chief minister J Jayalalithaa had objected to the provisions of the SPV and had demanded that land provided for projects should be treated as equity contribution at market value and that matching contributions from railways should be in the form of money or land owned by central government departments.

Prabhu also said that projects in Tamil Nadu received more money from railways in the last two years. “Under the UPA government, the state was getting on an average 800 crore in the railway budget. We increased this to 1,560 crore in the last budget and this has been increased to 2,287 crore this year.”

New train to Coimbatore from Bengaluru soon: Prabhu

In a bid to connect industry-based Coimbatore and Bengaluru, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said a new train will be introduced between the two regions shortly.

Prabhu said his ministry has chalked out a detailed plan to introduce the train soon in view of meeting the long-standing demand of both the cities.

Though he did not disclose whether the train would be a night or day service, the minister said order had been placed for coaches.

Prabhu also said the Centre was discussing introduction of high-speed trains with major multi-national companies.

“We are in discussion with six global companies on introducing very high speed trains that can travel at more than 300 kmph. These trains are capable of running at a top speed of about 600 kmph,” he said.

Stating that measures were taken to save energy worth Rs 41,000 crore over the next 10 years, Prabhu said the Indian Railways has already saved about Rs 4,000 crore on energy.