Ahead of the rail budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today hinted at an increased role of the private sector in development of railways.
“We want the railway stations to have better facilities than airports. This is our dream and it is not a difficult thing to do and this is economically viable too. I have discussed it in detail with my Railway friends. You will see a change in near future.
“In that, private parties would also be ready to invest because this is a good project economically and will benefit everyone. This would be a win-win situation project and we want to move ahead in this direction in the coming days,” he said.
The Prime Minister was addressing a gathering at the inauguration of the Katra rail line project in Jammu.
Modi said the railway stations in metros and important cities such as Jammu would be priority for the government with regard to development of railway stations.
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He said the Railway Ministry has been given a detailed outline of the project.
Railways Minister Sadananda Gowda will present his maiden Rail Budget on July 8 in Parliament. The Government has already hiked the fares for passenger travel and freight transportation.
The Prime Minister said with the inauguration of the railway link and the hydel power project in Uri in the evening, “Jammu and Kashmir’s development will get both speed and energy.”
He said railways is an environment-friendly mode of transport and it will be spread in Jammu and Kashmir.
Stressing that the Himalayan states have similar problems and opportunities, he said there is a need for a “common model” of development for them.
Modi said he had come to the Mata Vasihno Devi shrine during his election campaign and “today we begin our development journey from here.”
He said six trains would be running from the Katra station to different destinations in the country and three sets of local trains would also be running from Jammu to the station.
Railways is considering extending Jammu Mail and Sampark Kranti Express up to Katra, besides introducing new trains, including Katra-Kalka Express, New Delhi-Katra AC Express.
There is also a possibility of launching a new train between Varanasi and Katra, a railway official said, adding the purpose is to connect two holy places by train. An estimated 10 million devotees visit the shrine every year.
Railway Protection Force (RPF) has been stationed at vulnerable locations all along the track in protected bunkers to maintain round-the-clock vigil.
Katra station is equipped with modern facilities, including tourist guide counter, cloak room, waiting hall, VIP lounge, escalators and lifts and parking spaces.
The train connectivity to Katra is part of the ambitious Kashmir rail link project marking region’s rail connectivity with the rest of the country.
The Prime Minister will fly to Srinagar where he will address a ‘Sainik Sammelan’, official sources said. He may touch upon India’s ties with neighbouring Pakistan at this event.
After his lunch with Governor N N Vohra, the Prime Minister will inaugurate the second phase of 240 MW Uri Hydel project which has been built by the state-run National Hydel Power Corporation (NHPC).