Cost-sharing pact historic: Prabhu

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Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu on Friday said that Railways will strive to make Kerala the “hub of rail infrastructure in the country.”

He was speaking after laying the foundation stone for 13 initiatives in Thriuvananthapuram and Palakkad railway divisions at the Central station here.

The recent signing of an MoU between the State and Railways for cost-sharing of railway projects would address the problem of resource crunch, he said.

Joint venture

Mr. Prabhu said he had called on Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and other Ministers and was working on a road map and business plan for the joint venture company to be floated for cost-sharing. Describing the pact as ‘historic,’ Mr. Prabhu said it would be a landmark in the railway development in the State. Seventeen States had come forward to sign the agreement with Railways.

Although Kerala tops the chart in the health and other social development indices, the Minister said it had not come to the expected level in economic development.

‘Years of neglect’

Mr. Prabhu said Railways had suffered a lot over the years from neglect and a lot of effort was needed to rectify it. “Money is a problem and we are going ahead with plans for a new phase in railway development,” he said, emphasising on the importance of customer service.

LED video walls for display of train information, new traffic flow and parking facilities, booking office, escalators and lifts and foot overbridges were dedicated to the nation. He also laid the foundation stone for a running room.

Through video-conferencing, Mr. Prabhu laid the foundation stone for second entry to Kollam railway station, and dedicated a new vegetarian refreshment room at Ernakulam Town, a solid state interlocking (a new signal system) at Ernakulam Junction, a broad gauge section between Palakkad and Pollachi, and an escalator and two lifts at Palakkad Junction.