Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu announced that 200 more railway stations will be equipped with high-speed free Wi-Fi. As part of its programme to upgrade facilities at railway stations, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said in an event at Thiruvananthapuram that 200 more stations and some additional trains would be provided with Wi-Fi in 2017. The high speed free Wi-Fi at railway stations is provided by joint venture of Google and Railwire. Google CEO Sundar Pichai had pledged to help government provide high speed free wi-fi at more than 500 major railway stations across India. In 2015, Indian Railways provided Wi-Fi at 100 stations.
“More trains will also would be provided with Wi-Fi next year. The objective is to have Wi-Fi facility at all railway stations in small cities and towns,” Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu said. Calling the state governments to partner with Indian Railways to provide a boost to investment and ensure faster completion of projects, he said “The Centre and state will have equity in the venture and funds for the projects will be raised through market borrowings with the consent of the state government.”
Indian Railways is likely to have its highest ever plan outlay of around Rs 1.35 lakh crore for the next financial year. The national transporter plans to seek almost Rs 60,000 crore from the finance ministry and another Rs 25,000 crore from LIC as loan. The remaining amount will be raised by the Indian Railways Finance Corporation (IRFC) bonds, internal resources and public private partnerships (PPP). The highest ever plan expenditure is aimed towards modernization of Indian Railways and ensuring safety of passengers.
Railways plans to use the funds for constructing freight corridors, improving connectivity in Kashmir and North-east, upgrading signalling, redeveloping stations, improving passenger amenities, acquiring rolling stock, expanding critical freight lines near coal fields and ports. Indian Railways is planning upgradation and increased investment in maintenance of tracks and rolling stock to ensure safety of the passengers. Railways is all set to boost the manufacture of LHB coaches and increase CBC coupling in place of conventional screw coupling as an effective measure to reduce fatalities and damages in an accident.
In an another significant development, Indian Railways notified the doubling of compensation amount from 1 January 2017. While currently, the maximum compensation to the kin of the deceased is 4 lakh rupees, it has been increased to Rs 8 lakh. Similarly, the compensation for the injured has also been doubled.