नई दिल्ली New Delhi: A massive technological upgrade drive is on by the Indian Railways in areas like safety, passenger comfort and ticketing in order to match the services with global standards.
Steps are also being taken to set up malls at select railway stations.
“We have undertaken a massive technological drive to launch services like mobile ticketing, ordering a particular menu at a particular station, better designed coaches, high horse power locomotives and better system to deal with fog conditions,” Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar today said.
Mobile ticketing was about to be launched shortly, he said while addressing FICCI’s National Executive Committee meeting.
“The Indian Railways is not likely to do what it has been doing in the past and it will come up in a business-like manner,” he said.
Following the decision to open up the Railways to 100 per cent FDI in 10 select areas, benchmarked to global standards, the railways is looking to large private sector investment, he said. He asked industry leaders to come forward “in areas where we want and in areas where you want to invest”.
After the maiden investor meet held on December 5, the next is slated to be held on the January 6, 2015, he added.
Stressing that the government was also focussing on setting up high speed railway network, he said enormous investments were required for high speed trains of 300 plus kms per hour.
While funds required for laying tracks for express trains was Rs 10 crore per km, high speed trains needed a whopping Rs 100 crore per km.
He said plans were also afoot to raise the speed of exiting trains. For instance, it is proposed to cut the travel time from Delhi to Kanpur to three hours and Kanpur to Lucknow to one hour.
Station development is another area that is engaging the attention of the Indian Railways, the Railway Board Chief said, adding a shopping mall concept was in the works to attract passengers who normally arrive at the station much before the train departs.
“We should be able to see this happen at five-six locations in the next two to three years”, he said.
Additionally, catering of food is sought to be improved by allowing passengers to order the menu of their choice at a particular station. Re-designing of wagons and locos for comfort and making them accident-resistant and easy tracking of freight parcels are other focus areas.
He said special efforts were being made to reduce the number of accidents at railway crossings by reducing the number of unmanned crossings.
At present there are 11,000 unmanned crossings and it is proposed to eliminate them altogether in the next 6 years, he said.