In a meeting attended by Sh Mukul Roy, Sh KH Muniyappa, and Sh Bharatsinh Solanki, Ministers of State in the Ministry of Railways, Chairman Railway Board and members of the Railway Board, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh took a detailed review of the Indian Railways.
Expressing concern at recent accidents at unmanned level crossing gates, Prime Minister directed that the signage and road surface at the level crossing gates should be in accordance with laid down norms. The Railways will launch a publicity drive to educate the road users also.
In view of the summer holiday season in full swing, Railways assured Prime Minister that punctuality is receiving utmost attention, while amenities at stations are being stepped up to provide greater convenience to the traveling public. While appreciating on-line ticketing as a good initiative, Dr Manmohan Singh mentioned that there were complaints of the system becoming slow at peak times. Railways will move to ensure that the capacity for on-line ticketing is increased by an additional one lakh tickets per day within this summer.
Prime Minister also asked the Railways to give special attention to the supply of fertiliser for farmers, and to expeditiously move foodgrains for the public distribution system from Punjab and Haryana, for consumption in the rest of the country. There should be no slackening in movement of coal to power plants, so that sufficient stock can be built up before the monsoon.
While the Railways apprised the Prime Minister of the record completion of new lines last year, Dr Manmohan Singh said that creation of Railway infrastructure must not slow down. Railways must fast track the setting up of locomotive factories, and other initiatives being taken to attract investment under the public-private partnership framework. This will also send a positive signal about investment climate to potential investors, both at home and abroad.
While appreciating the good work done by the Railways under Kum Mamata Banerjee, Prime Minister said that the tempo should be further quickened to carry the initiative forward. Dr Manmohan Singh made specific mention of the need to speed up work on the Dedicated Freight Corridor, J&K Railway Project, and the national railway projects in the North Eastern states. While Railways had successfully absorbed the additional staff costs after the 6th Pay Commission, Prime Minister mentioned the critical need to improve the operating ratio by increasing revenues and decreasing operating costs.
Mentioning that Indian Railways was the lifeline of our nation, Prime Minister appreciated the dedication of Railway staff and officers, and exhorted them to aim to achieve beyond laid down targets.