Centre proposing conversion of entire Railways network into Broad Gauge: Railway Minister

The Railway Minister said doubling of rail tracks is another priority area and 12,500 km of network has been doubled in the last two years

NEW DELHI Converting the entire network of rail tracks into broad gauge and installing bio-toilets in all trains are among the ambitious projects being implemented to make the railways a major engine of the country’s growth.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who stated this in the Lok Sabha today, also informed about a proposal to lay separate rail lines for freight trains and a move to lay at least 10 km track per day.

Insisting that passenger safety is a major priority, he said the latest technology is being introduced and the government was working on removing all unmaned level crossings across the country.

Investment in railways has declined over the years compared to the road sector in India while it has gone up significantly in countries like China, he said, adding a “clear cut roadmap” has been prepared under which Rs 8.5 lakh crore of investment has been planned in the next five years to make the network one of the best in the world.

Replying to a two-day long debate on Demand for Grants for the Railway Ministry during which the opposition slammed the merger of Railway Budget with General Budget, Prabhu said the government had inherited problems from the previous dispensations.

The Demand for Grants was later passed by voice vote after rejection of all cut motions.

Prabhu said the Modi government had initiated investments to the tune of Rs 3.5 lakh crore in the last three years.

Talking about strengthening of infrastructure, Prabhu said all the meter gauge tracks will be converted into braod gauge in the next five years and all trains will be equipped with bio-toilets by October 2, 2019.

As of now, there are 3650 kms of meter gauge tracks which are to be converted into meter gauge.

According to the government target, entire track of meter gauge in the North East is to be converted into broad gauge by the end of this year.