Expansion of Rail Network need of the Hour, says Suresh Prabhu

Addressing All-India Management Association conference here, the minister said there was “infrastructure deficiency” in Railways.

NEW DELHI: Congestion of rail network is posing a serious bottleneck for traffic growth and the need of the hour is expansion of the network with investment, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said today.

Addressing All-India Management Association conference here, the minister said there was “infrastructure deficiency” in railways.

Blaming years of low investment in rail sector for the current bottleneck, he said, “We are suffering from the past mistakes. Today’s problem in railways is because of the past practices.”

Currently all major trunk routes are facing heavy congestion, restricting the movement of goods and passenger trains. “Today 17 per cent of the total rail route is handling 60 per cent of the total traffic load. Some of our lines are using 100 per cent capacity,” he said and added “That is why we have undertaken a massive task of rail expansion like laying new lines and doubling.”

He said investment is railways would have a multiplier effect on the economy.

“When we lay new lines we need steel. If we construct, then cement industry would grow. For safety upgradation, signalling and telecom sector would get a boost. So any investment in rail sector would leads to growth in economy,” he said.

Referring to changes in railways, he said now complaints are being addressed instantly as one can get it registered quickly through social networking site. “Passengers encountering any kind of problem can be tackled in real time basis. Whether it is cleaning issue or catering or TTE asking for bribe, one can seek redressal instantly,” Prabhu said.

Railways are encouraging people to post their travel-related woes on social networking site as a dedicated staff is monitoring these sites round-the-clock. Prabhu also mentioned the ongoing accounting reforms in railways and said, “We are shifting towards outcome-oriented accounting system now”.

Railways offer platform for products of NGOs, SHGs

Railways today offered support to NGOs and self-help groups (SHGs) to use its network for promoting their activities for the benefit of the society.

With the aim of enhancing its social footprint, railways would join hands with NGOs for selling their wares including ethnic food and handicraft.

If our network and infrastructure could be utilised for some social benefits it should be done, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said at the seminar organised for improving the social footprint of railways in a positive manner.

The seminar will seek suggestions for formulating policy on working with NGOs on social benefits.

He said SHGs can join the e-catering venture of railways and sell their ethnic food.

“Food, handicraft products and other materials prepared by NGOs can be sold through our e-portals. It will be beneficial for both,” he said.

SHGs have already started to sell their wares in the Konkan region with the help of Nabard.

“It is benefiting railways and also SHG. Handicraft goods can be marketed through IRCTC site,” he added.

Besides leveraging reach of IRCTC for selling products of skill-based enterprises, railways will offer station in the remote area and old coaches for the use of NGOs.