Railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is working at an ambitious Rs. 1,000-crore plan aimed at ramping up passenger amenities - including a scheme to build "pay and use" toilets at 600 stations.
The plan - to be announced by Bansal in next month's budget speech - also includes the installation of escalators and lifts at all the 700 stations.
"The railways have signed an agreement for constructing 'pay and use' toilets under the PPP mode with the Sulabh International," minister of state for railways Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy said.
Land for constructing such toilets will be provided to the developer by the railways on the payment of a licence fee.
At the charge of R5, a passenger will be provided a soap, a shampoo pouch and a towel as well at these wash rooms. Such toilets will come up at all the 700 stations, beginning with the major metros, including New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore.
The first lot of such toilets has already come up at the Hyderabad station. The railways also intends to build additional cloak rooms adjacent to these toilets. "Such facilities will be of immense use to passengers wanting just a day's stop-over at a station," officials said.
Anxious to improve the quality of catering services, Bansal has asked officials to work on plans of setting up base-kitchens on the premises of railway stations. "This will facilitate more surprise checks by railway officials on kitchens being run by the catering contractors," a senior official said.
Bansal's core group engaged in the budget preparation exercise also favours the option to alter the panel of catering contractors to prevent cartelisation and monopolisation. "We will rope in new players to provide catering services," an official said.