Years of neglect responsible for railways’ problems: Minister

Kolkata, Aug 21 (IANS) Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday blamed “years of neglect and lack of investments” for the poor performance of the railways and admitted that its problems were “mammoth”.

“In the last several years, we have not invested in the railways as much as was necessary. It is now showing clearly in terms of safety, dropping customer service and delays,” Prabhu said during an event at the Eastern Railway headquarters here.

He also said that 17 states have agreed to form a joint venture with the railways for developing infrastructure.

Prabhu said new trains could not be introduced unless the existing capacity was augmented.

“People desirous of meeting their families during festivals are not getting adjusted on trains. We cannot put more trains unless we augment our capacity. All these are showing because of years of neglect and lack of investments,” said the minister.

Prabhu, however, asserted that things were moving in the right direction and called for cooperation from the states in dealing with the problems of railways.

“The problems are mammoth and we have to work in partnership with the states to tackle these. We need to correct it, but nothing will happen overnight. We are on track. It will take time but it will happen,” said Prabhu.

The minister said the performance of the railways was improving on all parameters, including safety and punctuality.

Describing his Thursday’s meet with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as “excellent”, Prabhu exuded confidence of getting the West Bengal government’s cooperation in improving railway infrastructure and services in the state.

“As many as 17 states have agreed to form joint venture with the railways for developing infrastructure and we hope Bengal will join soon,” he said.

Prabhu on Thursday announced the Centre would bear the entire additional cost of Rs.765 crore on the much-delayed East West Metro Rail project.

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