New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) Indian Railways will spend Rs.1 trillion ($21 billion) on modernisation of railway signals, tracks and rolling stocks keeping in view the transport needs of the next five years, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad said here Saturday.
'The modernisation of railway signals, tracks and rolling stocks will not only reduce the unit cost but also provide services to customers at a reduced cost,' Lalu Prasad told an infrastructure meet organised by the Planning Commission.
Among the several innovative plans unveiled by the railway minister to address the needs of the people while raising the railway's revenue stream is the proposal to set up outlets for agro products at 7,000 railway stations through public-private partnership (PPP).
'These outlets will purchase milk, fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices and these products will be carried to the markets through air-conditioned containers,' the minister said.
'The successful implementation of this project will result not only in farmers getting reasonable prices for their products but also make available fresh milk and vegetables to the urban population resulting in overall economic development of the country,' said Lalu Prasad.
He highlighted the fact that optimum utilisation of railway assets had resulted in reduction of the unit cost and turnaround of Indian Railways into a profitable entity.
'The implementation of the dedicated freight corridor project in different parts of the country will not only result in increased speed for goods trains but also allow high speed passenger trains on the existing tracks,' the minister stated.
During the current fiscal, the railways are expecting the freight traffic to record an 8-10 percent growth and passenger traffic to grow by 6-8 percent.
For continuing the growth momentum, Railway Board chairman J.P. Batra stressed that the railway infrastructure needed to be in place to fully capitalise on the opportunity.