Dedicated freight corridors Railways' next priority: Lalu

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Kochi, Nov 2 (UNI) Declaring that the Railways was not going to rest on its laurels following a remarkable turnaround, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today said the development of ''dedicated freight corridors'' will be the next priority of his department.

Delivering the inaugural lecture in the 'Excellence in Management' lecture series started by the School of Management Studies, Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), he said work would be taken up soon on the western and eastern freight corridors.

Welcoming private sector investment in the project, Mr Prasad said that while the western corridor would link Delhi with Mumbai, the eastern corridor would stretch between Ludhiana and Howrah, in the first phase. In the second phase, dedicated freight corridors would be developed between Mumbai and Chennai and Chennai and Howrah.

''This will help us to move goods trains on the dedicated lines, relieving the congestion on the existing lines and leaving these free for introduction of more passenger services,'' he added.

Stating that the Railways had earned a surplus of Rs 20,000 crore this year, the Minister said a 70-day bonus had been declared for the employees.

Apart from the freight corridors, private sector investment was also welcome in setting up world class railway stations, hotels, motels and containers, he said.

Stating that there was no dearth of foreign investment for the Railways now, Mr Prasad said the Japanese development agency JICA had offered a low interest loan for the freight corridor project.

Favouring indigenous production of railway equipment, he said new factories would be opened to manufacture engines, coaches, wheels and locomotives. ''Instead of sending our money outside, we will like to invest the money in the country and create more jobs.'' More UNI

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