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Railways gear up for economic boom time

By Staff
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New Delhi, Feb 24 (UNI) Aiming to match up demand in the fast growing economy, the Railways today got its biggest ever plan size, 32 per cent more than the previous year, for improving freight and passenger services.

Of the total plan outlay of 23,475 crore, 46 per cent would be generated internally, Railway Board Chairman Jai Prakash Batra told a press conference soon after Rail budget 2006-07 was presented in the Lok Sabha.

''We are speeding up works on the high density corridors. Our thrust will be on capacity expansion with a view to increase our market share and sustain higher growth rate,'' he said.

The Railways plans to set a ''new milestone'' of manufacturing 30,000 new wagons this year, a 25 per cent jump over the previous year. This is in addition to the wagons to be made available through wagon investment scheme and the new container train operators.

Production of electric locomotives will be increased by 17 per cent and diesel locomotives by 5 per cent this year. Production of high power locos will also be increased to ensure optimum utilisation of line capacity.

Work on a Rs 22,000 crore dedicated Eastern and Western freight corridor will begin this year. The eastern corridor will link Ludhiana to Sonnagar aiming to cater to power utilities, industrial units and mines in the belt.

The Western Corridor will start from Jawaharlal Nehru Port and end at Dadri. Both corridors will be joined by a link between Dadri and Khurja. Feeder routes on the eastern and western corridors with linkage to ports will be upgraded later.

In another significant step, the Railways reduced freight charges on deisel and petrol, prime movers of the economy, by eight per cent.

The production capacity of Rail Wheel factory Chhapra, Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, Samastipur Workshop and Rail Coach Factory Kapurthala will be enhanced.

The Railways will also prioritise guage conversion works, laying of new lines, renovation of old tracks and bridges, studies on advanced signalling and communications technologies, safety devices and other ongoing projects this year.

It also envisons a significant role for the private sector in enhancement of its services, Mr Batra said.

UNI NAZ/VN VD HS2059

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