Govt announces key decisions for transforming Indian Railways: Here’s what you need to know

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Think about travelling in a train nowadays, yes it is certainly not the worse but the passenger comfort is still missing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken notice of that and development of railway infrastructure seems to be on the central government's priority list.

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In line with PM Modi's 'vikasyatra' (development journey), the minister of Railways announced major decisions needed for the transformations in Indian Railways.

Announcing this Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that the ministry is committed to ensuring high standard of service speed and safety for Indian passengers but also ensuring contribution to nation development. All these transformations will increase the lifeline of Indian Railways.

The ministry has taken several key decisions which includes passenger safety, modernisation, energy efficiency, upgrading of upgrading of heal and education.facilities and so on.

Here are the major decisions taken by Indian Railways

Highest priority to passenger safety

● Overriding and perceptible priority to safety
● Priority to track renewal over new lines/gauge conversion/ in allotment of rails
● Tremendous stress on field inspections by officers
● Overriding priority for granting maintenance blocks
● Eliminating remaining 5,000 unmanned level crossings in a time-bound manner
● Shift to LHB coaches from ICF coaches by next year
● Provision of CCTV cameras in coaches and stations for enhanced security especially benefitting women and senior citizens
● Ramping up electronic interlocking of signals in place of manual interlocking
● Revamping the existing signalling system - use of TPWS (Train Protection & Warning System)and MTRC (Mobile Train Radio Communication). Also considering modern signalling systems for suburban and long distance trains
● Using technology like ultra sonic frequency detection, cameras for detecting defects etc.
● All RPF staff and TTEs to be in proper uniform while on duty to bring in transparency
● RPF staff will not check tickets, which is the function of TTEs. They shall however assist ticket checking squads.

Transforming through technology

● Stress on extensive use of mobile apps for monitoring and passenger services
● All stations and trains to have high speed wi-fi connectivity
● Proposed to increase speed of around 700 trains with effect from 1st November 2017. 48 trains are being converted from Mail express to the Superfast category
● Expediting the project for GPS based real time monitoring of train movement
● Expediting satellite based mapping of all Railway assets through ISRO

Energy efficiency

● Completion of electrification by the next 4-5 years. This will lead to savings in energy costs of over Rs. 10,000 cr while reducing pollution and dependence on imported diesel
● 100% LED lighting and energy efficient appliances like fans, ACs etc. to be introduced in in trains, stations, office buildings and residential colonies in a time bound manner
Faster Redevelopment of stations
● About 20 stations will be modernised in an expedited manner with superior infrastructure and passenger facilities including hotels, eateries, shopping, disabled friendly, multimodal transport hub, security etc. by December 2018
● Identifying additional stations and trying to create a self-financing business model like reassessing tenure of contract, access control and freedom to sublease etc.

Railway Stations as Multi-utility centres

● Many stations that receive very few trains in a day are proposed to be used as Multi-utility centres for activities like yoga centres, skilling, educational purposes etc.
Upgrading health and education facilities
● In addition, schools and hospitals operated by Indian Railways will be improved with infrastructure facilities, which will benefit not only railway employees but also other people

Human resources

● Tremendous stress is being laid on welfare of human resources
● Grievance Redressal Camps are being organised regularly. Grievance Redressal Cells are being set up in every Zonal/divisional headquarters for hearing employee complaints
● Extensive delegation of powers is being done
● Process reforms to improve the efficiency of the system is being taken up in an aggressive manner
● Reduction in number of organisational layers is being analysed
● Posting of brilliant and enthusiastic officers as Station Directors at 75 A1 Class Stations to bring dynamism in operations
● Posting additional ADRMs to strengthen divisional work by reallocation from headquarters

Focus on welfare of field staff

● Improving overall working conditions of Group D category staff. For example, gang-men, who are responsible to ensuring track safety, and who have to walk around 15-16 kms on an average in a particular day will be provided with comfortable uniforms and better quality shoes. Their living quarters (Gang huts) too will be improved
● Running rooms of loco drivers are being air conditioned
Enhancing Railway Revenue through monetisation of assets
● Monetisation of railway assets will improve finances and the operating ratio, freeing up resources for critical railway projects. This will be done by making land monetisation attractive by changing various rules and regulations

These improvements will help the lifeline of our nation to flourish as well as contribute more to our economic and social development. The transformation of the Indian Railways is well under way to ensure it is not just the compulsion of the people but the choice of the people.

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