Gandhinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said his government is focused on development of railways shedding earlier practices wherein the ministry was used as a "bargaining tool" by the main ruling party to "distribute trophies to its allies".
"The railway was left to its fate in earlier regimes. The allies of main political party used to demand the railway ministry to join the government. The party which came to power at Centre also used the railway ministry as a bargaining tool to distribute trophies to its allies. This is a bitter truth," he said.
"Leaders from political parties who got the control of the railways were not interested in (development of) railways and I need not say what they were interested in," Modi said.
The Prime Minister today laid the foundation stone for redevelopment of Gandhinagar railway station, which will get a face-lift at a cost of Rs 250 crore and will have a 300-room five star hotel built atop.
"My government has given priority to railways... it should expand, it should be developed, get modernised and it should bring a qualitative change in the lives of common people.”
"We have tried to do this in the last two years and five months. We have increased the budget of railways to double of what it was," he said.
Modi listed various works done by his government to develop railways and said the pace of doubling of railway tracks has increased, besides speeding up of gauge conversion and electrification of lines. He said free WiFi has been provided at railway stations.
The Central government is working to increase speed of trains and also striving to bring in global technology to make railways safer, as "safety is of greatest concern", Modi said.
"In developed countries, 70 per cent goods transportation is carried out by railways while rest by roads. However in India, 15 to 20 per cent is through railways while 70 to 80 per cent is by roads. Goods tend to get costlier when transported by roads. We are stressing on development of freight corridors," he said.
The Prime Minister also said that railway stations located in cities can be developed by constructing high-rise buildings atop them.
Gandhiangar railway station will be redeveloped through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed between the Gujarat government and the Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd (IRSDC). The proposed name of the SPV is Gandhinagar Railway & Development Corporation Ltd.
The project includes redevelopment of the railway station as well as the construction of a 300-room five star hotel atop the station. The hotel, with three towers, will be around 65 metres tall.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said his ministry is planning to replicate such redevelopment at 23 railway stations across the country.