The forthcoming Railway Budget will focus more on upgrade of existing passenger amenities with railway stations as major thrust areas. Indian Railways has identified 50 busy stations across the country to start the first phase of the works to be completed in the next financial year.
To kickstart the opening phase, Railways has now approved the installation of 100 escalators in the 50 stations at a cost of approximately Rs 28 crore. This is one of the biggest countrywide passenger amenity upgrade exercises taken up in one go by the national transporter, which will take the number of escalators at India’s age-old railway network to the three-figure mark from a measly 13 at present.
Built with European technology owned by a foreign firm, the units will be assembled in India and installed at various sections — mostly enabling passengers to cross between platforms with ease without having to climb lofty stairs of the overbridges. The company awarded the contract has installed the same escalators elsewhere in the country and abroad.
At present Indian Railways, one of the world’s biggest rail networks, has only 13 escalators — in New Delhi, Anand Vihar, Pune, Vijaywada and Chennai Egmore.
The new list of 50 stations includes Metro cities like Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore as well as Tier-II cities like Kanpur, Agra, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Durgapur, Asansol and even smaller towns across the country. Officials said the selection of the stations was based on the need keeping in view passenger flow and rail traffic in these stations.
According to railway sources, the top brass of Indian Railways have pushed for massive upgrade of passenger amenities in the Budget with a view that any possible increase in train fares must also correspond with better services for passengers both on trains and at stations.
While the cash-strapped Railways is in need of a fare revision since fares have not been raised in almost a decade, one of the arguments that Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi has held forth internally is that a fare hike must also show improved services. Sources said the minister has given directions to officials to carve out a Railway Budget that stresses more on upgrade of passenger amenities.
Source - Indian Express