High-speed trains will accelerate eco opportunities: Ashwini Vaishnaw at HTLS
HTLS 2023: Ashwini Vaishnaw said the government’s vision for the railways also included modernising the transporter to bring in world-class comfort and services
NEW DELHI: India’s focus on high-speed trains is meant to accelerate economic opportunities for the people and the industry, the minister for railways, Ashwini Vaishnaw said, and added that the government was looking to connect large transportation hubs with high-speed, high-frequency rail services.
The Union minister, speaking at the opening virtual session for the 21st Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, which began on Tuesday, said the government’s vision for the railways also included modernising the transporter to bring in world-class comfort and services.
“If we look at a high-speed network, we should not look at it as a rail network or infrastructure project alone. A high-speed network rail network basically creates a large economy,” he said, offering the example of how Japan connects its cities of Tokyo and Osaka, with three other cities – Nagoya, Kobe and Kyoto – together forming a large economic hub.
“These five economies become one logical economic unit – they are not just one plus one plus; they benefit from a multiplier effect,” the minister said, adding that this is the sort of outcome the government has envisioned when it planned the high-speed corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
At the outset of this approach is a focus on local manufacturing, the minister said. “The first element [in modernising railways] is getting the right trains designed in India, manufactured in India for use in India today and for exporting tomorrow. Vande Bharat is a great example. It is fully designed in India and it is a notch better than many other trains globally on multiple parameters,” he said.
Vaishnaw said such services will one day help a person to “very conveniently sit in a train, continue to work on a laptop or enjoy a book, reach their destination for work then come back the same day”.
A part of the focus also centres on passenger comfort, for which the railways has begun revamping stations across India, and refurbishing old coaches.
“We have a large stock of old-generation coaches, almost 40,000. We are creating a new concept -- we haven’t yet given it a name -- in which old coaches can be refurbished to a level that is very good, very comfortable, very convenient. And they can then be run at a significantly higher speed,” he said.
This also ties in with India’s focus on local manufacturing, since many of these refurbishments and new train coaches are being made in India.