Prabhu to flag off Gandhi Express in his first rail budget

  • Srinand Jha and Gaurav Choudhury, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 15, 2015 01:14 IST

A ‘Gandhi Express’ to link places associated with the Mahatma and a Logistics Corporation of India (LCI) to help India’s public transporter generate more freight revenue are among the announcements that railways minister Suresh Prabhu is expected to make in his maiden budget speech next month.

Concessions to farmers and a Kisan Express, which will have air-conditioned wagons for transporting fresh fruit and vegetables, is also likely to be part of the budget.

The Gandhi Express —embossed with symbols, messages and photos of the Mahatma — is likely to run on what will be called the ‘Mahatma Heritage route’ connecting cities such as Porbandar (Gandhi’s birthplace), Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad, Madurai, Pune, Mumbai, Wardah and Champaran.

Like the Dibrugarh-Kanyakumari Vivek Express — India’s longest train — the Gandhi Express will traverse several states but its initial run will be limited within Gujarat, sources said.

Asked to provide door-to-door service to consumers including IT-support and value-added services such as packaging and labelling of products. “The new corporation will modernise railway goods sheds and set up multi-modal logistics parks… the ministry has already forwarded a cabinet note in this matter,” said sources.

A proposal by the shipping ministry to set up a corporation for implementing port connectivity projects under the PPP mode is also being considered. About 500kms of tracks are proposed to be built under the PPP mode in 11 identified ports. Private investments worth roughly Rs 6,000 crore are expected under the scheme.

“The aim is to provide for multi-modal transportation near coal pitheads and ports, which will also accelerate the turnaround time of wagons. But a decision on the proposal has not been firmed up,” sources said.

The ministry has also drawn up Model Concessional Agreements, which offer assured returns, including interest component, to private parties investing in building connectivity tracks to ports or coal/mine pitheads.

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