New Delhi: In a letter to the Railway Board Chairman, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant has suggested that there is a need to privately redevelop 50 railway stations with world-class facilities on priority basis.
Kant, in his letter dated 7 October, has sought formation of an “empowered group of secretaries” to push forward this project.
Pointing out how six airports have been privately overhauled under an empowered group of secretaries, Kant suggests the same can be done for railway stations.
“Considering the recent experience in privatization of 6 Airports a similar process for setting up an Empowered Group of Secretaries to drive the process is required,” the letter addressed to Railway Board Chairman V.K. Yadav says.
It also states that the idea has already been discussed with Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.
The letter also criticises the slow overhaul of 400 railway stations — something the Narendra Modi government has aimed to achieve. “Despite the fact that the aforesaid commitment was given for last several years, actual implementation of the same has not happened except for a few isolated cases in which a few stations have been taken up through EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) Mode,” Kant said.
Private players for passenger train operations
Throwing his weight behind a recent decision by the rail ministry to bring in private players to operate passenger trains, the CEO said it would bring a “paradigm shift”.
“As you are already aware that the Ministry of Railways has also decided to bring in private train operators for passenger train operation and is contemplating to take up 150 trains in the first phase. This would also bring in a paradigm shift in the operation of passenger trains over Indian Railways. The aforesaid Empowered Group of Secretaries may also be also be tasked to drive this initiative also,” the letter says.
Kant’s statement came only days after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had flagged off the Tejas Express – the country’s first private train run by its subsidiary IRCTC on the Lucknow-New Delhi route.
The suggested group of secretaries, the letter adds, should consist of the NITI Aayog CEO, the Railway Board chairperson and secretaries of the Department of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
“For effective implementation of both these projects, Member, Engineering Railway Board and Member, Traffic Railway Board may also be co-opted in the Empowered Group,” the letter says, and adds that necessary orders of the railway minister be taken in this regard.