Suresh Prabhu flags off Ajni-Pune AC Train from Nagpur, inaugurates 20 new projects at one go

NAGPUR: Giving a major thrust to infrastructure development in the region, railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Tuesday launched 20 projects costing over Rs.5,550 crore at one go at Nagpur. Suresh Prabhu also has flagged off the much awaited Ajni-Pune-Ajni AC superfast weekly train here on Tuesday, while also announcing Nagpur-Amrutsar-Nagpur and Pune-Amravati-Pune AC superfast trains.

Prabhu laid the foundation stone for crucial third railway line projects between Itarsi-Nagpur (280km), Wardha-Ballarshah (132km), and third & fourth line between Nagpur-Wardha (76km). Foot Over Bridge (FOB) at Nagpur railway station with 5 lifts, Godhni cabin, double line at Kalamna yard, development of Ajni as satellite terminal, water recycling plant at Ajni, development of passenger facilities at Godhni railway station, coach depot at Itwari railway station, coach maintenance facilities at Motibagh, electrification of Amla-Parasia rail line, expansion of passengers’ facilities at Chandrapur station, installation of LED lights at Nagpur, Ballarshah and Wardha railway stations and official announcement of wi-fi facility at Nagpur station.

He also laid the foundation for a 134-metre-long FOB connecting all eight platforms with five lifts at Nagpur station, besides converting Ajni into a satellite terminus. The projects were launched through video conferencing in the presence of dignitaries, MPs, MLAs and senior officials.

Addressing a motley crowd of employees, passengers, individuals and members of rail user bodies, Prabhu said Nagpur was centrally located and cannot be isolated. The launch of new lines will also being additional trains to Vidarbha.

“People’s expectations from the Railways have increased but our infrastructure has not gone up as compared to demands. Hence, we are investing Rs.3.50 lakh crore on various railway projects across Indian Railways, and Nagpur will automatically benefit from them,” he added.

The railway minister laid stress on converting all metre gauge lines into broad gauge, besides electrification and strengthening railway infrastructure in Maharashtra.

Prabhu said the state government and railway ministry have already formed Maharashtra Railway Infrastructure Development Company Limited (MRIDC), a joint venture to implement railway projects worth Rs1.36 lakh crore in the state.

Prabhu also highlighted his ‘Mission 41K‘, which aims to save Rs.41,000 crore in power bills for Indian Railways up to 2025. “Over the years, rate of electricity for traction has increased considerably, putting a lot of burden on railway finances. We have now started exploring feasibility of purchasing electricity from the open market,” he said.

Accordingly, a power purchase agreement (PPA) was signed in November 2015 by Central Railway with Ratnagiri Gas & Power Private Limited (RGPPL) for 50 traction sub-stations in Maharashtra. The use of traction supply from RGPPL between November 2015 to March 2017 saved Rs.800 crore for the Railways in Maharashtra.

Senior officials told Central Railway has again signed a PPA with RGPPL for a period of five years from April 1, 2017. Traction power will be supplied at Rs.5.50 per unit as against the present power tariff of Rs.9 per unit by MSEDCL. Thus, Central Railway will save Rs.2,500 crore over the next five years.

Prabhu informed that Railways plan to increase installed capacity target for solar power plants to 1,000MW by 2020. “This will also save power bills,” he added.

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir, Nagpur District Guardian Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule, city Mayor Nanda Jichkar among others were prominently present on the  occasion. Addressing the programme, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said that there is an emergent need to run daily AC trains from Nagpur to Pune and Mumbai. Getting these trains is a happy sign for the people of Vidarbha, he added.