Soon after taking charge on Tuesday, Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said the decision on increase in fares and freight rates, which stands proposed by the ministry, would be taken after discussion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Gowda said Modi has a lot of “innovative ideas” about railways, which he would like to discuss with him for implementation and chart out a roadmap for the national transporter.
“I will discuss with my prime minister about the proposal to hike fares. I will take the matter to the Cabinet and a decision will be taken after that,” he said after taking charge in Rail Bhawan.
Sources said Gowda has evinced interest in interacting with his predecessor Mallikarjun Kharge to understand pending issues and concerns in the ministry. A high-level safety review meeting with the full Railway Board was taken late evening in the context of Monday’s train accident.
He said decisions on whether Railway required a funds boost from the government to upgrade safety would also be taken after he studied the matters.
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Gowda took charge a day after an accident near Sant Kabir Nagar caused massive casualties. While the district administration and the UP government kept reiterating the death count of 40, Railways kept maintaining till late last night that the figure was no more than 11. With talks of Railways underreporting the death toll, Gowda clarified that the official figure as on Tuesday stood at 26, while the number of injured was 50. Later in the evening, a railway spokesperson in Lucknow put the toll at 28.
The PM has suggested to Gowda that since MOS Railways Manoj Sinha and union minister Kalraj Mishra have already visited the accident site and gathered all information, there is no need for him to go there on inspection “to merely add to the show”.
Railway ministry officials said prima facie it appears that the locomotive of the Gorakhdham Express derailed due to a rail fracture. A probe by the Commissioner of Railway Safety is on and a report is awaited.