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Passenger comfort gets green signal

Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)

New Delhi, Feb. 12: The railways proposes to introduce many environment-friendly measures and broaden the role of IT in its operations, minister Mallikarjun Kharge said while presenting the interim budget today.

The ministry has set up a special unit — Railway Energy Management Company — to promote the use of non-renewable energy. It will build windmills and solar power plants, with about 40 per cent subsidy from the ministry of new & renewable energy. The project will initially cover 200 railway stations, the roof tops of 26 buildings and 2,000 level crossing gates.

Besides, approaches to major railway stations will be landscaped along the two sides of tracks. Pilot projects will be started at tourist hotspots Agra and Jaipur.

Moreover, the railways have adopted a bio-toilet design that has been introduced in about 2,500 coaches.

Online push

Kharge said a series of steps had been taken to increase the role of information technology in rail operations, including enhancing SMS alert services and online booking of meals in trains.

Some of the initiatives are online booking of retiring rooms at all important stations and booking of meals on trains on select routes.

Further, waitlisted passengers will get automatic PNR status updates once their tickets get confirmed. Train running information systems will be installed at rail premises to provide information about a train’s whereabouts on real-time basis.

The rail ministry has also proposed the introduction of e-forwarding note and electronic transmission of railway receipts for freight customers.

The railways will also run special parcel trains to promote the transportation of perishables as well as sensitive items.

India Inc happy

India Inc today said the government had made the right decision by keeping passenger and freight rates unchanged while focusing on the modernisation and expansion of the rail network.

“Increased private participation seems to be the way of future development. The increased efforts toward unlocking the value of rail assets will go a long way in achieving this objective,” Assocham president Rana Kapoor said.

Ficci president Sidharth Birla said the setting up of an independent Rail Tariff Authority would lead to greater rationalisation of the fare and freight structures.

CII director-general Chandrajit Banerjee said the government was doing the right thing by emphasising on bringing investment through FDI and PPP projects.

 
 
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