Need Railway reforms, ways of 20th century can not serve India: PM Modi

Ahmedabad: "Needs of the 21st century India can not be fulfilled by the ways of the previous century, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while inaugurating several projects in Gujarat including the redeveloped Gandhinagar railway station with a luxury hotel atop it on Friday. The various railway projects inaugurated by him during the day were the 'trailer' of the new avatar of the Indian Railways, he said, adding that common people will now get airport-like facilities at railway stations. Among the works, Modi inaugurated via video link was also the redeveloped Vadnagar railway station where, in his younger days, he had helped his father run a tea stall.

Stressing the need to reform the railways, he said the 'New India's train' is moving ahead on two tracks- modernisation and the welfare of the poor, middle classes and farmers. "The requirements of the 21st century India cannot be fulfilled by the ways of the 20th century, so the railways need reforms," Modi said. While Union home minister Amit Shah joined him virtually, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani were present at the Gandhinagar railway station. The 7,400 sq mt five-storey luxury hotel with 318 rooms atop the Gandhinagar station has been built at a cost of Rs 790 crore. The aim of his government was not just to build concrete structures "but we are building infrastructure that has a character,” Modi said, adding that the government has started developing the railways as an asset and not only as a service provided to the people.

The Dedicated Freight Corridor, once operational, would further increase the speed of trains, he said. "Tracks and stations in the country now look cleaner because we have installed two lakh bio-toilets in compartments. WiFi facility is being provided to even Tier 2 and 3 stations. I am saying this with immense pride that these projects is the trailer of the Indian Railways'' upcoming new avatar," the prime minister said. Along with "horizontal expansion" of the railways, capacity and resource building and "vertical expansion" is also necessary, the PM said. "This hotel has ushered in this new approach. Now, even common man will get airport-like facilities at railway stations," he said, adding that such infrastructure is not meant only for the rich but every citizen has the access to such facilities. Better public spaces are the need of the hour, he added. "These things are considered luxuries. Real estate developers also stress that their property is park-facing or near a garden. It happens because a large population remains deprived of quality spaces and quality life. But India is now marching ahead by leaving such things behind," he said.

The prime minister had performed the ground-breaking ceremony for the redevelopment of the railway station in January 2017. The Union government is working on a detailed roadmap of 'multi-modal connectivity' which will prove crucial in providing last-mile connectivity under the Atmanirbhar Bharat mission, the prime minister further said. Srinagar in the north will soon be connected with Kanyakumari in the south through the railway, he said. The PM also virtually inaugurated three new attractions- an aquatic gallery, robotic gallery and nature park — at Science City in Ahmedabad. He also flagged off a new weekly superfast train between Gandhinagar and Varanasi (his Lok Sabha constituency), saying it links the 'land of Somnath' with the 'Land of Vishwanath'. He also inaugurated a Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) train service connecting the state capital Gandhinagar and Varetha in the Mahesana district. Modi also dedicated the 54km newly electrified Mehsana-Varetha broad gauge rail line which passes through Vadnagar, his hometown, and a 266 km stretch between Surendranagar and Pipavav stations, said Dipak Kumar Jha, Divisional Railway Manager, Ahmedabad.

The Mehsana-Veretha meter gauge line has been converted into an electrified broad gauge line at a cost of Rs 367 crore. Inaugurating the Vadnagar Railway Station's building which has been revamped at a cost of Rs 8.5 crore and given a heritage look in view of its historical importance, Modi recalled his childhood. The Prime Minister's father Damodardas had a tea stall at the Vadnagar station. During his younger days, Modi used to help his father sell tea at the station. “Numerous memories of mine are connected with this station,” he said, adding that he wished to visit all the places he inaugurated, including the Vadnagar station.

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