Chennai: The nation’s first Green Rail Corridor, a 114-km long Rameswaram-Manamadurai stretch in Tamil Nadu which ensures zero toilet discharge on rail tracks, was today inaugurated by Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Trains in the section have been equipped with bio-toilets ensuring zero discharge of human waste on the rail tracks.
Inaugurating the corridor through video-conferencing from here, Prabhu said his ministry was committed to converting all toilets in railways to bio-toilets.
He said till March 2016, a total of 35,104 bio-toilets had been provided and since then till last week 7,000 more new bio -toilets have been made operational.
“During 2016-17, our target is to provide 30,000 new bio-toilets and the benefits are obvious,” he said adding the initiative will also bring down maintenance cost significantly.
“Before end of March next year, the line to (from Jammu) Katra will also be human waste free,” he said.
He also inaugurated high speed upgraded Wi-Fi facility, set up in association with Google, at Chennai Central Railway Station and a similar facility at Tiruchirappalli through video conferencing. The Wi-Fi amenities were part of the digital India plan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said.
He launched a traditional medicine centre under Ayush at Perambur Railway Hospital here, a broad gauge line between Thiruvallur and Thiruvalangadu stations on the Chennai-Arakkonam line.
On developing rail infrastructure, he said the Tamil Nadu government should go for a Joint Venture with Railways like other southern States.
“I know we want to do more for Tamil Nadu. And for that, I had requested (Chief Minister) Jayalalitha, one of the great leaders of the state and India, madam ji to join hands with us so that we can have a JV for development,” he said.
The Minister said he had written to Jayalalithaa only a few days ago on the matter. He said Tamil Nadu’s neighbouring states of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, had agreed for JV with the Railways.
“So, we are awaiting a response from your state,” he said hailing Jayalalithaa as “dynamic.”
Referring to high speed network plans, he cited increasing speed of trains from 110 to 160 kmph in the Chennai-Bengaluru sector, and between New Delhi and Chennai.
“The idea is that we should try to bring in high speed network to all the people of India which will help bring in a complete transformation.”
To develop the high speed network, work was on to devise strategies, one of which was using Talgo coaches and a trial with 180 kmph speed run with full load had been completed.
“Completion of trial between Mumbai and Delhi (will happen) in the next few days. If it is successful, it has been successful so far, then we will ask them to manufacture in India under PM’s Make in India programme,” Prabhu said.
Referring to other proposals in the pipeline in Tamil
Nadu, Prabhu said extension of Tiruchirappalli-Tirunelveli Intercity Express to Kanyakumari had to be done and asked the Southern Railway General Manager to “take it up as quickly as possible”.
The possibility of increasing the frequency of Kanyakumari-Hazrat Nizamuddin Tirukkural Express as a daily train “will be explored very soon”, the Railway Minister said.
Stating that a foundation stone for the doubling of Madurai-Kanyakumari-Tiruvananthapuram line had to be laid, he said, “I also request the state government to join hands with us so that we can take it forward.”
On the third railway terminal in Chennai, he said, “We will be very happy to have a third terminal in Chennai in Royapuram.”
“We are looking at partnerships with state, city governments and people of India. Without partnership railway cannot progress and with partnership, we can do wonders,” Prabhu said.
Stating that railway stations could be developed on a PPP basis, he said “as you can see the land belongs to the Railways. If the mayor and the state government can join hands, we can develop it as a JV so that the city will get a beautiful icon. People will get benefit and all of us will get revenues from this.