Guwahati, Nov 29: Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the first train between Guwahati in Assam and Mendipathar in Meghalaya, putting the latter state on the nation's railway map more than six decades after independence.
Modi also sought privatisation of railway stations on the occasion. He said the state of the railway facilities are the same as they were over 100 years ago. He spoke in favour of privatisation for modernisation of the railways.
The prime minister said stations should be better than airports as most travellers are poor.
At a time when real estate is getting expensive, the railways should leverage its properties by allowing private parties to build facilities like hotels and restaurants, he added.
The prime minister besides inaugurating the passenger train between Assam and Meghalaya, also laid the foundation stone of broad gauge conversion of the Bhairabi-Saurang railway line in Mizoram.
Modi said his government would not be content with adding just another coach to a train or upgrading another station. He said he would like to see both horizontal and vertical development of the railways and make it the engine of the Indian economy.
PM Modi stressed privatisation of railways at the flagging-off event
The government has already allowed cent per cent foreign direct investment to completely modernise the railways, Modi added. He also said that four railway universities would be opened in four corners of the country where railway services would be taught.
Modi also said that the railways can be a mode of eco-friendly mass transport system and India's contribution to contain global warming.