GUWAHATI, June 11 - The Railway Ministry is considering setting up a coach maintenance facility in Assam.
This was stated by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal today while addressing a video conference from New Delhi with mediapersons in 13 different locations across the country, including Guwahati.
�Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had sent a proposal to us which has been seconded by Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain for setting up of a coach maintenance facility in Assam. It is under our consideration,� Goyal said.
Coach maintenance facilities are places where each coach is sent every two-three years for complete overhaul.
Gohain, who also took part in the video conference from the NF Railway headquarters at Maligaon here, later said, �We would have liked to have a coach manufacturing factory here. But, that�s not possible as the existing factories are producing a sufficient number of coaches. So, a coach maintenance facility is under consideration for Assam.�
It is noteworthy that a Coach Refurbishment Unit was approved at Bongaigaon last year with an investment of Rs 150 crore for daily upkeep of new-generation LHB coaches.
With regard to the long-awaited Bogibeel project, Goyal said the bridge will be commissioned in October this year.
Asked about reservation for locals from the Northeastern region in railway jobs, Goyal said, �The Railways is committed to providing jobs to youths from all over India. We have started an exercise for recruitment for over one lakh youth. I am sure youths from the North East will apply in large numbers and secure jobs as the entire selection process is totally online and fully impartial.�
The recruitment tests will be conducted in local languages like Assamese and Bodo for the benefit of the candidates.
Goyal also said that no proposals are currently under consideration of the Railway Ministry for realignment or change in geographical boundaries of any zones or divisions of the Indian Railways.
There have been demands from various organisations in the Northeastern region for bifurcation of the existing NF Railway zone and for constitution of separate zone to deal exclusively with the eight States of this region.
Goyal categorically stated that there is no proposal or plan for privatisation of the Indian Railways, but involvement of private parties for development of railway infrastructure and facilities would be promoted.
He said the Government is committed to improving the existing facilities as well as the infrastructure across the country, while at the same time, introducing new technologies like bullet trains, and stressed that there is no contradiction between the two.
�Like our vision of a New India, we are also working towards creating a New Railways. Lots of developments have happened in the Indian Railways during the last four years. The main change that has come about is one of mindset,� said the Minister.
He said the Railway Ministry is focusing on three main areas � safety, outcome oriented action and on delivery at speed and with proper skills.
He said free Wi-Fi facilities would be extended from 675 stations presently to 6,000 stations soon.
�There has been an increase in capital expenditure to the tune of two-and-a-half times between 2014 and now as compared to the previous five-year period... Our aim is to modernise the existing infrastructure and to double the capacity of Indian Railways within the next five years,� Goyal said.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said 43 railway projects are under progress currently in the North East and 15 new lines are under construction.
�The total expenditure would be Rs 89,601 crore. A total of 5,158 km of new broad-gauge lines are to be added in the North East ... The Union Budget 2018 has proposed 100 per cent electrification of the Railways in the North East at an estimated cost of Rs 2,353 crore. Work is in progress for electrification of 1,103 km of railway lines and work will soon start for electrification of 2,536 km of lines,� Gohain said.
He said that survey is on for doubling of the Lumding-Dibrugarh section and the Bongaigaon-Kamakhya section as well as for a 38-km broad-gauge line from Harmuti to Majuli via Bihpuria.
Survey is also on for a second railway bridge over the Brahmaputra at Saraighat.