Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has slammed critics of the bullet train project, questioning those who are opposed to the introduction of new technology in Indian Railways. “The last time Indian Railways brought any new technology to India – if you can call it that – was the Rajdhani in 1969,” Goyal said while addressing at FICCI Event on “Bullet Train & Modernization of Indian Economy”. “At that time, in 1969, the Railway Board Chairman had opposed the Rajdhani. Even in Parliament, questions had been raised on whether India needs a Rajdhani or not,” Goyal said.
Seeking to assure those who want better focus on safety, Goyal said, “There is no fund shortage for items of safety.” Further talking about the importance of safety, Goyal said that till recently two types of coaches were being manufactured – ICF and LHB. “The LHB coaches, with better couplers, are safer. I have asked that the Integral Coach Factory stop manufacturing old ICF coaches and switch to LHB whole time,” he said. “…and let me tell you that the LHB design, that I a promoting right now, is also 30 years old. But, I am doing so for the lack of an alternative,” Goyal said, adding that now the coach factories are working on new designs of train sets as well. Inviting all sorts of businesses, Goyal said, “The Railways is open for business for any product on earth.”
Talking about his experience as Railway Minister, Goyal, said, “I complete 77 days in office today – these have been good 77 days of learning. I got a chance to take quite a number of policy decisions”. “…and. I am not talking about routine decisions. The policy decisions – small and big put together – are upward of 600,” he said, stressing on the need to decentralise railway operations and decision making. “We are looking at massive decentralisation. We want to allow people to take decisions at the lower level. We have enough competent people who can take decisions,” he said.
This is not the first time that Piyush Goyal has answered critics of the bullet train project. Recently, he had answered a query on the website Quora, where he had been asked: “Does India actually need a bullet train?”. “…the prestigious bullet train will be a game-changer for the nation, besides being ‘a symbol of New India’ that his (Modi) government seeks to build by 2022,” Goyal had said, in a reply that has been viewed over 2 lakh times till date. “…Another example of when people thought India was not ready for new technology was when the mobile phone was introduced into the market. At the time it was considered to be elitist and expensive with a phone call costing Rs. 16 per min. But today India has the 2nd largest market for mobile phones in the world with almost every Indian owning a mobile,” he said. “Similarly, the Bullet Train project will also help Indian Railways revolutionise every passenger’s journey,” he added.