A 125% hike seen from ₹879 cr. a year in the 2009-14 period to ₹1,979 cr. a year in the 2014-19 period
The Indian Railways has published a document showcasing the State and constituency-wise achievements in terms of growth after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge in 2014.
The data on developments in the last five years comes in the backdrop of States ruled by the Opposition parties accusing the Centre of ignoring regional demands in the Railway Budget allocations in recent years. The average budget grant for Tamil Nadu alone, which constitutes a major portion of the Southern Railway, rose by 125% from ₹879 crore a year during the 2009-14 period to ₹1,979 crore during the 2014-19 period. The railways’ outlay for the fiscal 2019-20 is ₹2,819 crore.
The “New Railway-New Tamil Nadu” document explains that 27 projects, estimated at ₹20,064 crore covering 3,198 km were under execution in the zone that comprises Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry. In the last five years, 217 km of guage conversion and 398 km of gauge doubling projects were completed. In 2017-18, 247 km of gauge conversion and doubling works were completed, which is said to be a record for the zone in recent years.
Southern Railway came into existence in 1951. With its headquarters in Chennai, it has 74.5% of its network in Tamil Nadu, . The zone operates 1,313 trains, including suburban trains, connecting 733 railway stations. The document said a dedicated team of railway officials had been working relentlessly focusing on developing infrastructure, enhancing capacity, ensuring safety and operating passenger-friendly train services. It appealed to the passengers to support the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in keeping the railway premises clean.
Among the other achievements since 2014-15 were the introduction of 70 new train services, extension of 33 existing trains connecting new destinations, speeding up of 179 trains and introduction of the Nilgiris Mountain Railway steam specials for tourists.
On the security front, 666 closed-circuit television cameras were installed at 18 major stations in Tamil Nadu.
The number of runaway children rescued increased from 223 in 2014-15 to 1,032 in 2018-19. The baggage of 4,177 passengers reported missing or stolen was detected and returned to the owners.
The zone launched high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity at 198 stations and introduced online payment gateways for various transactions.
On board housekeeping services on trains, mechanised cleaning of coaches and stations and mechanised washing of linen were some advancements that evoked a positive response from the travelling public. All-women facilitation centres fully manned by women staff were established at five major stations.
Although various new facilities were created to improve freight loading, the data published by Southern Railway on its website showed that the originating loading from the zone, which was 42,403 million tonnes in 2013-14, fell to 35,757 million tonnes in 2018-19.
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