Unions wary of Chinese participation in Railways modernisation and Bullet Train projects

चेन्नाई Chennai (MAS): Last month, India and China signed MoUs and exchanged documents on strengthening Indian Railways and last week, Union railway minister Sadananda Gowda confirmed, during his visit to Chennai, that railways was in track with China on technology development and this had created a trigger among various railway trade unions in south India.

Railway unions associated with the southern states insist that Indian Railways avoid China for investment and technology and warned that Chinese intrusion into the railways will have adverse effects. “If required, the railways should go for other global expertise,” said Mr M. Raghaviah, general secretary, Nation Federation for Indian Railwaymen. Southern Railway Mazdoor Union and Southern Railway Employees Sangh that have a significance presence in TN, Andhra and Kerala, also express similar views.

There are rail traffic bottlenecks in all metros and this needs immediate attention to increase speed and punctuality. There is no need to spend Rs.66000 crore on every high speed corridor proposed between Mysore-Bangalore-Chennai, along with three other corridors in the country, Mr Ragaviah said, warning that FDI will only lead to an economic crisis. “We will be compelled to go on strike, affecting rail services, if the idea of FDI is mooted in the railways,” he added.

“There is need for technology transfer, but not investments from China or other countries. We benefited from importing German technology while developing AC coaches for Indian Railways,” said SRMU general secretary C.A.Raja Sridhar, who is also vice-president, (Asia Pacific) International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) headquartered in London.

For the Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed corridor, the estimated cost is Rs.66000 crore and during execution, the project cost will be around Rs.90000 crore. Rather than going in for China’s high-speed train, Japan’s bullet train is economical and the safest, meeting all international safety parameters, he said, war ning that foreign investments will convert railways from service industry into a corporate house, affecting the common man.

“Rail commuters look for quality service and punctuality and this can be attained only by filling up the existing vacancies and resolving the bottlenecks. Technology can improve, but preference should be more on improving the human resource indices of railway staff,” said loco pilot Gopala Krishnan of the Southern Railway Employees Sangh.

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