Calcutta, Aug. 16: Union railway minister Nitish Kumar today announced the construction of a state-of-the-art container handling railway yard here that will be developed on land belonging to the Calcutta Port Trust over the next two years.
On board the Heritage Train to Bandel to mark the first run of the East India Railways on August 15, 1854, Kumar said the project will entail a spending of Rs 10 crore and will benefit the increasing container traffic coming in through Calcutta port.
“The mechanised railway container handling terminal will cater not only to Bengal but also the eastern region, including Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar,” he said.
The railway minister — on a two-day visit to the state — said the terminal would allow fast movement of cargo between Calcutta port and Nepal. He said that improvement work would also be carried out at Raxaul, in north Bihar, from where train-borne goods bound for Nepal are off-loaded.
Saying that the new terminal would generate revenue for the railways, Kumar said: “We are going to mobilise resources by market borrowings in order to complete the ongoing and pending railway projects.” The ministry of finance and the Planning Commission would decide on how the market will be tapped by the railways, he added.
The minister said of the Rs 8,000-crore worth of projects that have been identified, the railways will provide Rs 3,000 crore as equity and the rest will be borrowed from the market.
Regarding railway safety, Kumar said that a “corporate safety plan” will be placed before Parliament in its current session.
“We want to reduce the number of accidents and as I am going to place these strategies before the Lok Sabha, I will not go into the details. But I can tell you that we want to eliminate collisions, reduce derailments and cut down on mishaps that take place at level-crossings.”
The minister added that there would be no additional “safety surcharge” for the corporate plan.
Kumar said the railways had never had a comprehensive corporate safety plan and added that fire-proof coaches for air-conditioned and general bogies would be introduced soon.
The prototypes of these special coaches will be completed by October, he said. Kumar said locomotive drivers and gangmen above the age of 50 would be offered voluntary retirement schemes and their wards inducted into railway service.