New Delhi: With a spate
of fatal accidents in the past few years, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi
Wednesday said safety would be the prime focus of his ministry during the
12th Five Year Plan, along with network expansion and modernisation.
focus will be safe safety, safety, safety," Trivedi told the Lok Sabha,
presenting the rail budget for 2012-13. This was the decision he took as
soon as he assumed charge of his ministry last year against the backdrop
of an accident in Uttar Pradesh, the minister said.
"I vow to
target zero deaths," he said in his maiden rail budget speech. "I also
propose to set up an independent railway safety authority, as recommended
by an expert group headed by the former Atomic Energy Commission chairman
The other four focus areas along with safety
listed by the minister were consolidation, de-congestion and capacity
augmentation of the network, modernisation and bringing down the operating
ratio. He also stressed on better hygiene and higher speed of trains.
a member of the Trinamool Congress, said the operating ratio of the
railways -- amount spent on running the network against revenues -- will
be lowered to 84.5 percent from the current 95 percent, and to 74 percent
by the terminal year of the 12th plan.
This is key to the network
being able to garner money for expansion and modernisation.
minister said he was looking at the current budget not as an exercise for
the next fiscal alone, but also for the entire five year plan, drawing
from the Vision 2020 document of his predecessor and current West Bengal
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The Indian Railways run the third
largest railroad network in the world spread over some 64,000 km, with
12,000 passenger and 7,000 freight trains each day from as many as 7,083
stations to ferry 23 million travellers and 2.65 million tonnes of goods
Given the socio-economic role played by the railways in
India's transformation, Trivedi also said time had come for formulating
national policy for the network on the lines of those for defence and
According to the minister, Indian Railways will
invest Rs.7.35 lakh crore during the 12th Five Year Plan period (2012-17),
against Rs.1.92 lakh crore in the current one. By then, it will double its
contribution to India's gross domestic product to 2 percent.
said the outlay of Rs.60,100 crore proposed for 2012-13 will be the
highest ever and added that the network will require Rs.14 lakh crore over
the next 10 years for modernisation.
Coming to specific
proposals, Trivedi said 85 new line projects would be be taken up during
the next fiscal year at a cost of Rs.6,870 crore, even as feasibility
surveys would be conducted for another 114 lines.
He said an
attempt will also be made to increase train speeds to 160 km per hour from
around 90-100 km per hour. With that, he said, a journey from New Delhi to
Kolkata will be brought down to 14 hours from 17 hours.