“When a stranger offers food on a train journey, simply remember to say two words: No, thanks”, says an advertisement by the Indian Railways in its efforts to secure the safety of its passengers.
This safety, improving passenger amenities in railway stations and generating more employment in a nutshell, will be high on the agenda for the new Minister of State for Railways, Kotla Jaya Suryaprakash Reddy.
“A small step for me, but a huge task to live up to the image of my father”, says the MP from Kurnool.
In an interaction with Business Line, the 61-year old, three time Lok Sabha MP, said the top priority for him would be to put in place a special mechanism to improve safety standards.
These include regulating carrying materials (explosive, chemicals and other harmful stuff) on trains, having an ID compulsory for passengers from December 31, and improvements in tracks and safety measures. There have been too many accidents in the recent past and security concerns are increasing, he said.
Suryaprakash Reddy feels AP has been neglected as far as developments are concerned in the last 15 years.
There are more than Rs 30,000-crore works pending. Out of the 39 works, only 10 have been completed. “I will take up these projects, which will generate a lot of employment”.
In his sight are the proposal for a coach factory (backburner since 20 years).
“Administrative sanction for the project was given. I will revive the proposal. There is a need for Rs 17,000 crore for these projects. Though, the Railways is short of resources, efforts will be made to take up some of the proposals.”
To increase connectivity and take advantage of the growth in Bangalore, Chennai and the eastern region, focus will be on developing Tirupati, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam railway regions.
Similarly, a long felt inter-city train between Kurnool and Hyderabad will be introduced, he added.
Referring to passenger amenities, he says a major emphasis, especially in the South, would be to go in for escalators connecting foot over bridges, to facilitate passengers reach the platform to board trains easily. Already 40 stations have been identified for modernisation.
Suryaprakash Reddy says “I am a practising farmer with cultivation and milch animals. There is not much time as the General Elections are in May 2014. But, I feel, there is scope to be people oriented-employment, passenger services and improving the overall efficiency of the 13 lakh strong Indian Railways, without great resources”.