Railway Ministry to re-direct the Proposals recently rejected by PMO back to PM Modi

NEW DELHI: The ministry of railways has decided to take all its big ticket projects rejected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month back to him for reconsideration, sources in the ministry said.

The sources also said though the prime minister has rejected three of the ministry’s ambitious projects – 100 per cent electrification of the track network, modernisation of signalling system at an estimated cost of Rs 78,000 crore, and plan to convert the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus into the first museum-cum-railway stations in India — efforts were being made to convince Modi that these projects were viable.

“Our electrification project is on schedule and we have completed a major portion of it.

We will try and convince the PM that we can go ahead with it,” the source told.

The Ministry of Railways has decided to electrify balance 38,000 Broad Gauge (BG) Route Kilometer (RKM) for achieving 100 per cent electrification by 2020.

The national transporter aimed to save Rs 10,500 crore a year in fuel bill through electrification.

A high-level meeting chaired by Modi on March 26, which was attended by the full Railway Board and Minister Piyush Goyal, had advised that the national transporter not rush through the electrification process.

It has also put brakes on Goyal’s plans to introduce modern technology in signalling system which, the minister had said, would result not only in faster movement of trains but also fewer accidents.

The PM, sources said, turned down the introduction of the advanced signalling system, based on the European Train Control System-Level 2, because of high costs and also doubts over its performance in Indian conditions.

Goyal in defence of the system has said that worldwide, this technology has been installed over 60,000-km route and that much will be done in India alone, so the cost will eventually come down because of economies of scale.

“The minister has always maintained that ensuring safety across the rail network is a priority for him and even if the costs are high, eventually, the economy of scale will help bring down costs.

The idea is to provide modern and safe railways to passengers.

We have decided to give these proposals another go,” said the source.

Another proposal of the minister to convert Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus into one of the first museum-cum-railway stations in India has also been put on hold by the PM, and for now, along with the other two, this project too would be taken up for his consideration in the next meeting, sources said.

However, the ministry is more keen on the electrification and the signalling projects to get through, sources said.

They also said the ministry was not changing the present nature of the projects and would try and push for the proposals in their present form to the prime minister.