To dispel “myths” about Indian Railways favoring the high-cost bullet train over safety of passengers, an official mail from the Indian Railways on Monday stated that they are equally devoted to providing services and amenities to different segments of commuters. Citing examples of running trains at the lowest passenger fares in the world and providing one rupee clinics across railway stations, they claimed they had an “unflinching commitment” to the poor and downtrodden.
Following the derailment of the Utkal Express in Muzaffarnagar in which 23 passengers lost their lives, the mail contained a response on how their focus on safety had not declined. As a response to one of the “myths” which stated that railways has diverted funds for the completion of bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, it stated, “High speed train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad is being funded by government of Japan with less than 20% contribution from the government of India. This money, which came at incredibly attractive terms (0.1% rate of interest) was made available only for this high-speed project and was not made available to fund safety projects for Indian Railways,” excerpts from the mail read.
While adding how the bullet train will be a safe mode of transport, it added, “The high speed train is the safest mode of transport in the world. The government has not diverted any funds from existing corpus.” The work on the bullet train project will commence soon, with the first tranche of $1 billion from a total loan of about $14 billion to be released during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the country on September 12-14. The $17-billion high-speed railway line of 508 km, which will be built on Japan’s Shinkansen technology, is expected to be operational by 2022-23, India’s 75th year of independence.
Excerpts from the mail further assert that one rupee clinics have been launched at important suburban stations and availability of janta meals is being ensured at all major stations. Implementation of new technologies like condition based monitoring system for rolling stock and Track and Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection System are being piloted on the network, it reads. “We have done the best as far as investment in these projects is concerned. We are trying to focus on passengers across segments,” a senior railway official said.