New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the railways have delivered what the BJP had promised in its poll manifesto in 2014 by providing free high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity in 800 stations and manufacturing the country’s first semi-high speed train, the Vande Bharat Express.
Highlighting the achievements of Indian Railways in the last five years, Goyal said, “The works done by the government in the last five years show that nothing is impossible.”
He said the Bharatiya Janata Party had promised to provide free high-speed Wi-Fi connections in public places.
“We have provided Wi-Fi connections at over 800 railway stations and the facility will be extended to 4,000 more stations,” he said.
Highlighting the works of the Modi government, the Minister said, “Our party promised rail connectivity in the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir. Today, most of the state capitals in the Northeast are connected.”
He said that the seven sister states of the Northeast – Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh – were now connected by rail network.
Goyal also said that in 2014, only Assam had broad-gauge rail network. “But now under our government, Itanagar and Agartala have been connected through broad-gauge network. By 2020-21, all the remaining state capitals will be connected,” he said.
The BJP had promised to provide indigenous rail coaches and it has delivered Vande Bharat Express, Tejas, Humsafar and Gatimaan trains, Goyal said.
The government has also worked on the modern signalling system and the tenders for the same have been floated, he said.
“It is all due to the vision and leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Goyal said.
Talking about improving the railway infrastructure, the Minister said the Modern Coach Factory this year has till date manufactured 1,290 LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) coaches. “By the end of this fiscal, we are sure that it will manufacture 1,422 LHB coaches,” he said.
V.K. Yadav, Chairman of the Railway Board, said that the last five years have seen a 81 per cent drop in the number of deaths caused by rail accidents.
“In 2013-14, 152 people had died on the railway network. In 2018-19, only 29 people have died till January 31 this year,” Yadav said.
He said that Indian Railways has achieved its target of removing all the unmanned level crossings across its network.
Yadav also said that the railways took a quantum leap in capital expenditure in the last five years.
“The total capital expenditure between 2014 and 2019 is more than double of that between 2009 and 2014. Between 2009 and 2014, the total capital expenditure was Rs 2.3 lakh crore, which has gone up to Rs 5.1 lakh crore in 2014-19,” Yadav said.
He also pointed out that the railways has increased the pace of commissioning new railway tracks across its network from 4.1 km per day in 2009-14 to 6.53 km per day in 2014-19.
“We have targeted to commission 15.34 km of railway track per day in 2019-20,” Yadav said.
Talking about the Vande Bharat Express, Yadav said the indigenously built train was the country’s first high-tech and energy efficient train which could run up to a maximum speed of 160 km per hour.
“We are planning to order 130 such trains in the future,” Yadav said.
Yadav also said that the work on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train will be completed by 2023.
He said the Indian Railways will achieve the target of 100 per cent electrification of its broad-gauge network by 2021-22.
“The railways is planning to install the most advanced signalling system. There is provision of Rs 77,912 crore in 2018-19,” he said, adding that in the first phase, four sections of 640 km will be taken up for the installation of European Train Control System L2 (ETCS L2) on a trial basis.
He said the new signalling system will not only improve the punctuality of the trains, but will also enhance safety on its network.
Emphasising on freight transportation, Yadav said the railways has transported 15.6 per cent more freight as compared to 2013-14.
“During 2013-14, the Indian Railways transported 1,052 metric tonne of freight, which increased to 1,216 metric tonne during 2018-19,” he said.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor project will be completed by 2020-21, Yadav added.