Railway minister promises spic-and-span stations | india | Hindustan Times
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Railway minister promises spic-and-span stations

Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, railway minister Sadananda Gowda has decided to give substantial emphasis on tidying up run-down stations, a long-neglected reality for the network's 23 million daily passengers.

india Updated: Jul 08, 2014 15:59 IST
HT Correspondent
Clean Stations

Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, railway minister Sadananda Gowda has decided to give substantial emphasis on tidying up run-down stations, a long-neglected reality for the network's 23 million daily passengers.

Modi wants not just an iconic bullet train to add to the nation's pride but also clean and unsoiled stations, hundreds of which haven't changed beyond how the British had left them.

In a speech he made inaugurating a rail service in Kashmir last week, Modi offered a picture of the railways he had on mind. "Why do our railway stations need to be so old, why can't they be better than our airports?" he asked.

In his budget for the railways, Gowda said closed circuit cameras at stations would be used to monitor cleaning activities by rail janitors. Gowda also promised proper water supply and clean toilets at stations.

Read:Gowda launches 58 trains in rail budget, proposes FDI to overhaul infrastructure

The rail minister said reverse osmosis-treated drinking water systems would be installed soon and proposed to outsource cleaning jobs on 50 stations to specialist agencies.

He also announced WiFi access at all "category A1" stations and battery-operated cars for elderly travelers, and warned of stern action against vendors delivering unhygienic food, including cancellation of contracts.

Efforts will be made, he said, to increase speed of trains to 160-200 km an hour on select sectors, a key issue. Slow-running trains routinely miss arrival deadlines across destinations on a 65,000 km network of the world's fourth largest network.

Delays are largely because of the railways' decrepit infrastructure. Successive governments have kept adding new trains to please voters without laying new tracks because of scarce funds, leading to congestion. Cheap fares have hobbled investment, ultimately affecting upgrades, expansion and economic growth.

Gowda also announced an upgrade of ticket bookings system to enable processing of 7,000 tickets from the current 2,000 a minute, with 100,000 users. He said ticketing facilities woild be extended to post offices and mobile phones apps would be popularized. Self-operating ticket vending machines are also on the cards, he said.