Be Tech-Savvy; step up Modernisation Drive: Railway Minister

Minister asks expats to join Kerala’s development
Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu laying the foundation stone for the new station building at Changanassery on Sunday
Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu laying the foundation stone for the new station building at Changanassery on Sunday

Kochi: Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has asked the railway officials to be tech-savvy and people-friendly to accelerate the modernisation of Indian Railways.

He was laying the foundation stone of the modern railway station building at Changanassery. He said the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government was moving ahead with the conviction that the modernisation of Indian Railways could be the harbinger of modernisation of India. “With such a large network that links and reaches out to the farthest corners of the country, people consider the Indian Railways as part of their family,” he said. He said the railways had witnessed a decentralisation effort, which had given powers to the divisional railway managers and general managers. “But the decentralisation process also brings with it, decentralisation of responsibility. The DRMs and GMs should use the social media to understand people’s aspirations and find solutions to local issues,” he said. The Minister added that he had been responding to questions from stakeholders on social media even as he was sitting on the dais. He asked the DRMs and the GMs to hold ‘durbars’ (mass contact programmes) at least once in a month to solve problems at the grassroots level.

He said the modernisation process of Indian Railways had already commenced and the government planned to take the Public Private Partnership (PPP) route to find the resources needed for the purpose. The government hoped to complete the process in 15 years and the first phase of the first five years had already begun, he said.

He wanted the railway authorities to take a pragmatic look at the issues and increase the revenue and save on wasteful expenditure. “The ‘Palace on Wheels’ (heritage train) is lying idle during the summer season. I think they should seriously think of opening a new tourism circuit in the South during the period using the coaches of ‘Palace on Wheels’,” he said.

He said state-of-the-art facilities should be set up at the Changanassery railway station.

Kodikunnil Suresh, MP, requested the Minister to take necessary steps to extend the Kochi-Kottayam passenger train to Kayamkulam. He wanted the introduction of a Rajadhani Express on the Kerala Express route among other things. C.F. Thomas, MLA, in his address called for stops for more express trains at Changanassery. Though there were 32 express trains passing through Changanassery, only 21 had stops at the station, he pointed out.

Krishnakumari Rajasekharan, chairperson, Changanassery municipality, Ashok.K. Agarwal, general manager, Southern Railway, P.K. Mishra, CAO (Construction), Ernakulam and others spoke.