Rs 14 lakh crore needed for modernisation: Rail Min

New Delhi: Aiming to take railways to the next generation, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi today said his department has prepared a blue print envisaging Rs 14 lakh crore investment in the next 10 years.

"The present railway system has outlived its utility. We are in some kind of Victorian age as far as the railways are concerned. Signalling is archaic. We have to embark upon a new generation," Trivedi told reporters here.

He said there is a requirement of Rs 14 lakh crore for the next 10 years for modernisation of rail network which include automation of signalling system, strengthening of track and procurement of modern rolling stock.

Asked how the massive amount will be generated, Trivedi said, "I am hopeful of getting the Planning Commission to support the modernisation plan. I am in constant touch with the Commission and they are aware of it. I will be also meeting the Prime Minister for this." Besides the Planning Commission, he said, "A part of it will also be from internal generation and private investment through public-private partnership (PPP) model."

On the commission`s role, he said, "Our plan should be in tune with the Planning Commission. If we are not in tune with it, then the Planning Commission becomes redundant. The commission has a bird`s eye view." Trivedi also favoured a national policy for railways. "I am for a national rail policy taking the opposition on the board. Let it be a collective decision."

Linking the national transporter with GDP growth, he said, "If the railways are not modernised, then there is no way we can hold to our GDP growth. Whether it is seven per cent or eight per cent, the railways have a major role to play."

On passenger safety, Trivedi said, "The signalling system has to be automated. At the moment there is human intervention at every stage. As long as there will be human intervention, there will be human error also. We have to minimise the human intervention with complete automation in the system."

Giving comparisons with other railways, he said, "I am visualising Indian Railways as a totally modern… as modern as European rail system or like Japan. In Japan for 47 years there was not a single train accident." Referring to Train Protection Warning System (TPWS), he said, "In order to prevent accidents, TPWS is a must."

He expressed dismay over the time being taken for putting into use the anti-collision device (ACD) system. "ACD trial is going on for the last ten years as a pilot project. A pilot project cannot go on for ten long years."

Advocating for e-tendering and e-auctioning as part of the modernisation exercise, Trivedi said the file movement should be less in the railways and "we should be doing it on e-mode..because e-tendering and and e-auctioning are more transparent. Our scrap should be sold through e-auction only."

He also mooted the idea of expanding the Railway Board to a nine-member body. Currently, it is a seven-member body including the chairman, he said, adding, "There should be a member revenue and member safety also."